Travellers’ appeal bid given rebuffal

Caravans at Lancaster Road, Preesall must leave.
Caravans at Lancaster Road, Preesall must leave.
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TRAVELLERS who illegally set up home on land Over Wyre have failed to persuade one of the country’s leading judges to give them a chance to stay on the site.

High Court judge Mr Justice Sales refused, in May, to give Patrick Dundon a fresh chance at securing planning permission for the site, south of Lancaster Road, Preesall, where the family has laid out eight pitches and stationed caravans.

His wife Margaret Dundon and fellow traveller Kathleen McGinley went to London’s Court of Appeal this week to beg the judge to give them permission to appeal.

However, the two women – who explained Mr Dundon is very sick and could not attend – won only the sympathy of the judge, Lord Justice Sullivan.

He refused them permission to take their case any further, leaving them with the prospect of having to leave the site within the next 18 months in order to comply with an enforcement notice issued by Wyre Council and upheld by a Government planning inspector.

The two women had begged the judge to give them another chance to stay at the site, claiming they have nowhere else to go and would be forced to live on the roadside. They protested that travellers have “no rights” in this country.

But the judge ruled the inspector’s decision to uphold the enforcement notice was a matter of “planning judgment” with which he could not interfere.

He said he was “sorry”, but ruled: “I am not able to find a legal error and so I am not able to give them permission to appeal to this court.”

He told them: “The only thing I can suggest is going to the council to see what they have got.”

He added they could apply again for planning permission, but made clear he was not advising them to do so.

The inspector, in the decision under challenge, found the caravan colony was a highly prominent and incongruous development in a rural area.

In the High Court decision, which the travellers had sought permission to challenge, the judge had branded the inspector’s approach “flawed” and “irrational”, and claimed it left him “substantially prejudiced”.

But the High Court judge said: “It is clear from a fair reading of the inspector’s decision he had the wider regional problems in terms of inadequate provision for gypsies and travellers well in mind.”

The enforcement notice, issued on October 5, 2010, orders the Irish traveller family to cease residential use of the site and remove all caravans, vehicles and structures.

The inspector extended time for compliance to 18 months, which commences following Tuesday’s ruling.

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