TRAVELLERS who were booted off a plot of land have vowed to set up illegal camps near leafy suburbs.
Six families have lived in the same field – which they own but do not have planning permission to live on – since 2018.
They have been fighting to stay on the site in Winthorpe, Nottinghamshire, for the last four-and-a-half-years.
But now, Newark and Sherwood District Council have ordered them to go after a High Court decision to let them stay was overturned last week.
The travellers claim they have no choice but to pitch up illegal encampments by the roadside after being given 14 months to vacate – and no other option for housing.
Locals now fear their town will be affected by travellers setting up caravans at parks, schools and supermarkets.
The Planning Inspectorate earlier ruled the land is too noisy for the gypsy community to live and is also at risk of flooding.
But mum Gemma Lamb, 35, claims they have had no problems with any noise and they had not experienced any flooding in bad weather apart from a “few puddles”.
She said: “I want to apologise to the people of Newark now because we’ll have to pull on to the side of the road or carparks, if we are forced to leave.
“The council hasn’t offered us anywhere else to go.
“The other sites in the area are full and there are no transit sites.”
Gemma says her community is willing to do whatever it takes -whether that be putting up acoustic fencing to shield from the A46 or planting more trees to disguise the site.
She added: “The council just doesn’t care.
“We are human beings too, the only difference being we live in tin boxes and you inside bricks and mortar.
“I just want to be able to sit down with councillors and have them listen to our story and understand we do have needs.
“And we’re not moving from Newark, this is our home.”
Newark and Sherwood District Council has told the families to leave the site and demanded all outbuildings and other “hard surfacing works” be dismantled.
Gemma said: “This is our community, the people around here like us.
“We’ve never had any complaints or police down here, and the noise simply doesn’t bother us.
“Us being here shouldn’t be down to the decision of a stranger who doesn’t know anything about us – but they are going to make us homeless.
“Just because we are Gypsies doesn’t mean you should tar everyone with the same brush.
“But we will end up being a hindrance to the council if they force us off because they have never supplied anywhere for travellers.”
One local resident, who did not want to be named, branded the handling of the situation “shambolic”.
The retired taxi driver said: “This has been going back and forth for years and now we face illegal traveller camps popping up all over the place.
I want to apologise to the people of Newark now because we’ll have to pull on to the side of the road or carparks, if we are forced to leave.
“We don’t want caravans parked up at our parks, supermarkets, schools or wherever it may be.
“We don’t want the disruption.”
David Lloyd, leader of Newark and Sherwood District Council, said: “The recent decision by the planning inspectorate comes after previous court, enforcement, and appeal decisions.
“While the personal circumstances and needs of the occupants presented to the appeal process were heard in full, the Planning Inspectorate concluded that […] the site was inappropriate for reasons of noise and flood risk.
“Accordingly the Planning Inspectorate has upheld the enforcement notice requiring that the site occupants vacate the site within 12 months and remove all unauthorised development of the land, including hard surfacing works and outbuildings within 14 months.
“I do sympathise with all those affected by this final decision.
“The district council continues to work to identify suitable sites to meet its current and future Gypsy and Traveller needs.
“Further updates will be presented to the public for consultation in the latter half of this year as to how this need could be met.
“In the interim I can assure residents of this unauthorised site that we will not be enforcing the requirements of the notice.”
A spokesman for the Environment Agency said: “There is a risk of flooding from the River Trent to this site and therefore, throughout the appeals process, we maintained our objection on flood risk grounds.”
Source: The Sun