Saturday, 28 November 2009

I’m Shocked, Shocked

…to find that dishonesty and manipulation may have been going on:
A traveller and her planning agent are accused of plotting to get permission for a mobile home which is actually used as a base for unofficial paving firms.

Basildon Council believes Mary McCann does not live at a property called Hatchertang in Hovefields Avenue, Wickford, a public inquiry at the Basildon Centre heard yesterday.
And why do they believe this…?
Single mum Miss McCann, 29, gets income support and argues it is a safe haven for four children, aged four to 13.

Yet, several council photographs taken since 2007 show up to 13 vehicles on site, including five caravans, building materials and four trucks used for her family’s driveway business.
This is the second inquiry since April 2008 when her appeal was rejected after the inspector ruled she was no longer a gipsy because she had no intention to travel again due to the “hassle”.

The current hearing was ordered in March after she appealed to the High Court using legal aid.
Well, of course it was…
Miss McCann’s planning agent, Alison Heine, of Heine Planning Consultancy, is a specialist in retrospective approval for travellers.

Since her involvement, Miss McCann’s evidence changed to claim she regularly travels to gipsy fairs and during the summer.
Or as other people understand them, ‘holidays’.

Seriously, is that all it takes to be classed as a ‘traveller’ these days? Some people spend months in Ibiza. Are they too ‘travellers’?
Miss Heine blamed this on Miss McCann not understanding the implications of answers given at the previous inquiry.
‘I didn’t realise I was incriminating myself at my last trial, your honour..’ This is grounds for appeal now?
Neil Costen, council head of enforcement, told the inquiry: “The appellant is saying evidence she gave at the last inquiry was untruthful, because she thought telling untruths would help her.”

But it’s a single line at the end of this report that stood out for me:
He said settled residents, too fearful to attend the inquiry, spoke of similar circumstances.
Welcome to the English justice system. Twinned with the Sicilian justice system…


Oldrightie said...

She'll sell her story for hundreds of thousands, pay a paltry fine and join the golf club. Betcha!

Mark Wadsworth said...

Thanks for the elk story.

James Higham said...

Oh goody - so if I wander about on my bike, do I then qualify?

Umbongo said...

"Welcome to the English justice system. Twinned with the Sicilian justice system"

The difference is that, in Sicily, the "official" government doesn't even pretend: there's no human rights bollocks. OTOH you get what you pay for from the "unofficial" government. With only slight exaggeration, this is the way English justice system evolved.

The King's courts produced better justice than those of the local baron and, guess what, the local courts fell into desuetude. The growing contempt for our justice system will see the rise of "unofficial" but effective justice. It might take some time but m'learned friends will have to learn rather different procedures.

blueknight said...

The Planning system works fairly well when the 'customers' are reasonable law abiding citizens. Unfortunately the various appeals built into the system mean that a resolution is never quick and the procedure can be stretched almost indefinitely while there is legal aid to pay for it.
The usual scenario, traveller buys land puts mobile home on it, usually ends up with the traveller being able to live there at least temporarily, because they have children at the local school -
someone who needs medical treatment from the local clinic -
or there are no other available traveller sites in the area.
It will be interesting to see what the Planning Inspector says although they have to follow the path the Govt sets them.
This made the news but it is far commoner situation than people might think...

Weekend Yachtsman said...

"she was no longer a gipsy because she had no intention to travel again due to the “hassle”. "

Well that's an interesting legal opinion is it not?

Surely it means no traveller site ever needs to be granted planning permission, because by definition, if they're building a house then they are not travellers - so the usual rules should apply in rural areas, ie "No".

Somehow I don't think it will work out that way.