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'We will sit in the mud and rain' - despite Solihull's ruling, Meriden gypsy camp protesters vow to carry on their vigil

PROTESTERS at the Meriden gypsy camp have been given the boot by Solihull Council.

meriden protest

PROTESTERS at the Meriden gypsy camp have been given the boot by Solihull Council.

Villagers have maintained a 24-hour vigil at Eaves Green Lane since travellers set up camp there in April 2010.

But, despite the gypsies losing their appeal to stay last October, it is Residents Against Inappropriate Development, RAID, who have been handed their marching orders after Solihull planners ruled their rudimentary shelter illegal on Wednesday evening.

RAID spokesman David McGrath said the group were “bitterly disappointed” with the decision but would not burden the tax payer by appealing.

At Wednesday’s planning meeting, Councillor Jim Ryan had praised the group for “doing the job of the council” by providing crucial evidence of illegal development at the site.

Ward councillor David Bell (Con, Meriden) described RAID as “the eyes and ears of the council” and warned that denying protesters their shelter could put their health at risk.

However, Coun Alan Martin said allowing them to stay could set a dangerous precedent and the committee eventually voting unanimously to eject the villager’s camp by the end of March. This would allow them to maintain a presence until the gypsies’ High Court appeal is heard on March 20.

Mr McGrath said: “We’re bitterly disappointed that the council is taking action against us but it's not entirely unexpected as they have to be seen to be fair to both sides.

“It’s ironic, that in two years, even through we have won all legal and planning disputes against the illegal travellers sites, the only enforcement action in sight is against the residents who are there to protect the greenbelt.

“When asked, we will take down our temporary shelter because it offends the planning system but we will not go. We will sit in the mud and rain, unsheltered, until we see enforcement action against the travellers.”

Noah Burton of the gypsy camp said he was unhappy with the councillors giving protesters “the job” of monitoring them and called it a “premeditated” decision.

 

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