Res­i­dents’ bid to ban Glastonbury trav­ellers blocked ... by own coun­cil!

Daily Mail - - Confidential - By Tom Payne t.payne@dai­ly­

WHEN trav­ellers moved on to an his­toric plot of Som­er­set coun­try­side, coun­cil­lors promised swift ac­tion to re­move them.

That was the sum­mer of 2008. As­ton­ish­ingly, they are still there, in a shanty vil­lage over four acres with more than 60 mo­torhomes, car­a­vans and con­verted trucks.

Res­i­dents liv­ing in cot­tages near the site, on the out­skirts of Glastonbury, have made count­less com­plaints about dogs, bon­fires, foul odours and mu­sic blar­ing at all hours.

They are also con­cerned about a queue of trav­ellers wait­ing to join the camp, which has just two por­ta­ble loos for san­i­ta­tion.

The an­gry lo­cals’ cause has been taken up by Mendip District Coun­cil, which owns the land by an his­toric 19th cen­tury tan­nery. Of­fi­cials have ap­plied for an evic­tion or­der.

How­ever, this is be­ing thwarted by Glastonbury Town Coun­cil, which falls within the district coun­cil area. The town coun­cil is sup­port­ing the trav­ellers’ right to stay – against the wishes of many of its own res­i­dents.

Led by mayor Emma George of the Green Party, the town coun­cil claims the trav­ellers have be­come an in­te­gral part of the com­mu­nity.

Miss George is even act­ing as the trav­ellers’ McKen­zie friend – a le­gal term for an in­di­vid­ual who gives guid­ance to a plain­tiff dur­ing court pro­ceed­ings.

The trav­ellers will cite Ar­ti­cle 8 of the Euro­pean Con­ven­tion on Hu­man Rights, which guar­an­tees free­dom from state in­ter­fer­ence in pri­vate life, when the case is heard next month. But one neigh­bour, who

‘The is­sue has split the com­mu­nity’

asked not to be named, said: ‘This is sup­posed to be about hu­man rights – but who is tak­ing into ac­count our rights?

‘We are hav­ing to put up with bon­fires, dogs bark­ing and loud mu­sic on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

‘ The coun­cil have of­fered them al­ter­na­tive sites, but they don’t want to move.’

When the trav­ellers ar­rived in 2008, the district and county coun­cils promised swift ac­tion to have them re­moved.

How­ever, the ne­go­ti­a­tions dragged on and even­tu­ally the site be­came a ‘tol­er­ated’ set­tle- ment, and the trav­ellers were al­lowed to stay. Dogs roam freely around the camp, which has be­come a dump­ing ground for di­lap­i­dated cars.

Last March, the district coun­cil served an evic­tion no­tice so it could re­pos­sess the land, but the trav­ellers vowed to fight it. Yeovil County Court, which deals with lo­cal land dis­putes, sub­se­quently ruled that in­fringe­ment of hu­man rights was an ar­guable de­fence, al­low­ing the case to go ahead.

John Bruns­don, a Tory district coun­cil­lor, said: ‘The is­sue has split the com­mu­nity. But there are bet­ter sites for these peo­ple to live so we can de­velop this site for ev­ery­one’s ben­e­fit.

‘The trav­ellers were al­lowed to re­main there and it be­came a per­mis­sive site, but it was never re­ally suit­able for their needs.

‘We of­fered other sites, but none were deemed ac­cept­able.

‘Be­cause of the prox­im­ity of a sewage farm and the smell it would cause, and cou­pled with the legacy of tan­ning, [the current site] was deemed un­suit­able as a place for peo­ple to live.

‘If it’s un­suit­able for hu­mans to live there then these trav­ellers should be moved on.’

Miss George did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

Un­sightly: The muddy site near Glastonbury is clut­tered with car­a­vans and con­verted trucks

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