Waltham St Lawrence Gypsy families served eviction notice

Gypsy families who have been living on an unauthorised traveller site in Berkshire for more than three years have been served an eviction notice.

The 40-plus people at the traveller-owned Waltham St Lawrence site will be given 28 days to leave before the council takes "direct action".

A Gypsy Council spokesman said Windsor and Maidenhead council "failed to meet its obligation to the Gypsy community".

Councillor MJ Saunders said: "We are determined this situation will end."

'Illegal settlement'

The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead rejected an application in July 2010 for 17 free-standing or static caravans at Five Oaks Farm in Shurlock Road.

The 10 families living there were given until 13 February 2013 to leave by the planning inspector, following an unsuccessful appeal by traveller landowner Mark Pickett.

The council cabinet met on Thursday, the day after the deadline, and decided to take "direct action to clear the land" if the travellers did not leave voluntarily.

Councillor Saunders said: "The law-abiding residents of Waltham St Lawrence have lived alongside the illegal settlement for more than three years.

"The council is committed to the return of this land to a green and pleasant state and to recover from the landowner the council taxpayers' money spent to achieve this."

'Travellers all local'

Gypsy Council chair Joseph Jones, who has liaised with the travellers on site, said they would not move unless an alternative piece of land was found.

He said there was still an outstanding application submitted to the council for the Gypsies "to stay where they are".

"That area has an outstanding unmet need for 21 pitches in the royal borough," he said. "The council have had 18 months to do something about that.

"The people living on the site are all local and they've tried to engage with the council several times to see what alternatives there might be and the council has failed to engage so far."

The travellers moved on to the site in mid-December 2009.

The council served an injunction on 22 December 2009 limiting the number of caravans to the 10 already on the site and banning any development.

An enforcement notice - requiring any buildings or structures without planning permission to be removed - was issued on 24 December 2009.

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