Tempers flare over gipsy site plan

Tempers flared after gipsy families hoping to stay at an illegal settlement had their latest planning application rejected unanimously by district councillors.

Tempers flared after gipsy families hoping to stay at an illegal settlement had their latest planning application rejected unanimously by district councillors.

The five families who moved to meadows at Denton more than three years ago have been given notice to quit. Their hopes of moving to council-owned land at Harleston were dashed when the consent was revoked, after it emerged that mature oak trees and hedgerow would have to be ripped out to create a safe entrance.

At a meeting in South Norfolk Council's offices on Tuesday, gipsy Melanie Jay demanded: "Where do you want us to go, to a gas chamber?" as Denton villagers sitting in the public gallery started applauding the decision.

The row spilled over into the foyer, with council chief executive Geoff Rivers helping to defuse the situation. Mr Rivers said: "The point is no one has come forward with a site, so we have to go through the local-development framework process, find a suitable site and go through compulsory purchase to buy them, if the landowner doesn't want to sell."

Rosemary Gibson, who lives opposite the site at Denton, said it would be "intolerable" for disturbance from the site to continue.

Councillor Murray Gray said the application for temporary three-year consent was virtually identical to a scheme rejected by a public- inquiry inspector last year, following an appeal.

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"I am not anti-gipsies," he said. "The site on Middle Road, Denton, is not a suitable location."

The gipsies' spokesman Lisa Smith said after the meeting: "I know this application makes us look bad but this has been forced on us by necessity. We would have been moving to Harleston if the council hadn't revoked the decision."

She said they will be lodging appeals regarding both the Denton and Harleston decisions.