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Save the Gypsies!!! The IOC is the real planning crime!

Forced Evictions, Displacement, Olympics and other Mega-Events

Save the Gypsies!!! The IOC is the real planning crime!

Postby TenantNet » Wed Mar 26, 2008 10:25 am

Council meets to decide how to evict gipsies who set up camp next door to £1m home of Tessa Jowell
Last updated at 22:52pm on 25.03.08
original at http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/

Legal officers at a county council will meet today to decide what to do about a gypsy encampment 200 yards from a Government minister's home.

About 100 English Romany Gypsies moved on to the field on Friday - only yards from the country house of Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell.

They set up water and electricity supplies before erecting fences and putting down paving for 32 caravans at the two-and-a-half-acre site near Shipston-on-Stour in Warwickshire.

Tory councillor Chris Saint, from Warwickshire County Council, believes the travellers used the four-day public holiday to move on to the field, which they bought more than a year ago, to avoid opposition from the local authority.

He said officers from the council's legal department would be meeting today to see what could be done about the site.

Although the gipsies claimed yesterday to be unaware she has a home so near until after they moved in, there is an undoubted irony in their choice of location.

For Miss Jowell was involved in the controversial eviction of gipsies from Newham and Hackney, East London, to prepare for the 2012 Olympics.

The 30 gipsy caravans swarmed on to the two-and-half-acre field, along with three diggers and a fleet of lorries, vans and four-wheel-drive vehicles, on Good Friday.

By their own admission, they hatched a plan over five months to outfox the local authorities who have moved them on from other sites hundreds of times over the last few years.

They clubbed together and secretly bought the plot a year ago for, according to them, £12,000, but waited until Easter to move knowing council enforcement officers would be on holiday and no one would be there to stop them.

Despite not having planning permission to turn the field into a permanent camp, they swiftly laid on water supplies, installed electricity cables and put down hardcore bases for the £6,000-each caravans of 16 Romany families who will live there.

Yesterday the menfolk were making the final preparations to get the camp ready for their wives and children, who had not yet moved in.

"It's a bit muddy now," said one of their number, father-of-four Jason Buckley, 38, "but when we've finished you'll be able to eat your dinner off the floor.

"People treat us worse than pigs but we are not bad people. There are good gipsies and bad gipsies, like there are good and bad in any community, and we are the good ones. We are English Romanies. We have jobs like roofing and fitting PVC windows.

"We just need a permanent home so our children can get educated and not grow up to be illiterate like we all are. Most of us are born-again Christians and we're not out to cause trouble for the villagers. We want to fit in."

His protestations, however, did little to reassure residents.

One mother of four living in a nearby barn conversion, who did not want to give her name for fear of reprisals, said: "In the 15 years I've lived here it's always been a safe area where you can leave your door open. Now we'll all have to be a bit more careful. No doubt if they're allowed to stay, house prices round here will be hit too."

Another elderly woman said: "It makes me so mad that they've come like this. It'll make me think twice before leaving home."

Local councillor Chris Saint said: "It's being viewed with alarm from a planning point of view, because it's an unauthorised encampment, and people are also worried that the gipsies will go around pilfering.

"The gipsies can apply for retrospective planning permission but everyone would much rather they had not taken the law into their own hands in the first place by building this camp without permission."

Mr Saint reported the situation to Warwickshire County Council at the weekend but will have to wait until today to see what action they take.

Meanwhile, Miss Jowell was nowhere to be seen. In March 2006 she separated from Mr Mills, 53, a corporate lawyer who faces accusations in Milan that he received a £350,000 bribe in 2000 from ex-Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi over evidence he gave in a court case against him, a claim he denies.

Yesterday Mr Mills was at their home and seemed philosophical about the gipsy situation when he briefly came out on to his rear patio which overlooks the camp.

"What has happened is a fairly outrageous breach of planning law," he said. "They have done a hell of a lot in a short time. I am genuinely sympathetic to people like them.

"We all need a place to live but, equally so, all have to obey the >planning laws. I'm sure the council will deal with the matter quickly."

The site was owned by businessman John Rutter. Yesterday his wife Michelle said he was skiing in Austria.

She added: "We sold the land through an agent. We hadn't got a clue they had sold it to travellers."

Meanwhile, back at the site Tom Brazil, 30, a father of three, said: "We'll do anything we can to fit in. Tessa Jowell or whoever wants to can come down and have a look."
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