"The Law is an Ass"
Travellers who moved into a Wiltshire hamlet last August were told by a judge yesterday they could stay for the time being, despite a "flagrant breach" of planning control.
The 56 itinerants, who say they are traditional Romany gipsies, bought a three-acre field in Minety, Wilts. Without planning permission, they dug trenches and used a bulldozer to install electricity cables and water pipes and to rip out hedges.
Villagers claim that house prices have fallen by up to 40 per cent, and the council applied for a High Court injunction to evict the gipsies.
Yesterday, at a hearing at the High Court in Bristol, Judge John Weeks, QC, said the gipsies could remain at least until after a public inquiry next February.
The judge, who was told that many of the travellers suffered health and educational problems, said: "There is clearly a strong public interest in upholding planning laws and there has been a flagrant and deliberate breach of planning control.
"However, the immediate hardship and suffering which will be felt from the order sought is sufficient to outweigh the public interest in enforcing it."
Speaking after the ruling, Doreen Darby, who sits on North Wiltshire district council's planning committee said: "The law is an ass and it is braying rather loudly."
And then there is the appeal on the planning enquiry etc. They won't be moved for years...