Leatherhead residents campaign for travellers to stay

Four traveller families facing eviction in Surrey have received the backing of residents in their fight to stay.

They bought the green belt site in Leatherhead in 2003 but applications to get it recognised as a permanent site have been rejected by the council.

Local residents say the families are a valued part of the community and are campaigning to allow them to remain.

Mole Valley District Council said it was "an inappropriate development on metropolitan green belt land".

Councillor John Northcott, executive member for planning, added: "There would have to be very special circumstances to overturn the harm that has been done to the openness of the green belt by this proposed settlement."

'Home is my castle'

Susan King, whose family is one of the four who have settled in River Lane, said all they wanted was to have a home like everyone else.

"People have just got no idea at all. They're just ignorant to the way of Gypsy peoples' lives," she said.

"To a Gypsy woman her home is her castle and the most important thing in my life is that my home is clean for my children and we live normal like everyone else."

Katherine Moore, of the Hope for a Home campaign, said the site was clean and tidy, there had never been any trouble and there was no other place for the families that was either affordable or suitable.

She said local residents wanted the families to know they were not on their own.

"There's a community behind you who love you, care for you, and want you to do well, want your children to succeed, want you to feel safe, want you to have a home," Ms Moore said.

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