Social Welfare Lawyers in the Centre of Birmingham

Gypsy and Traveller Cases

St Edmundsbury Borough Council – v – Oakley

St Edmundsbury Borough Council – v – Oakley [2015] EWHC 1975 (QB), 10 July 2015, Mrs Justice Patterson

The defendant had planning permission for a single Gypsy site but injunction action under Town and Country Planning Act 1990 Section 187B was taken against her for bringing on a residential touring caravan in an unauthorised location, use of the stable block for residential purposes and other matters.  An injunction order was granted on 17 December 2014 but was not complied with.  Committal action was taken.

The Traveller Movement and Others – v – J D Wetherspoon Plc

The Traveller Movement and Others – v – J D Wetherspoon Plc, Central London County Court, 18 May 2015, HHJ Hand QC

On 17th November 2011 the annual Traveller Movement Conference took place.  As usual the Conference took place at the offices of the Traveller Movement (offices shared with other organisations) at the Resource Centre on Holloway Road in London.  Also as usual, after the Conference, some of the delegates went for a drink to the Coronet public house next door,  a public house run by J D Wetherspoon.   There was no evidence of any problems having been caused in previous years or in this year by delegates from the Conference.  However, there was evidence of problems following on from a Conference at the Resource Centre in 2005 on the occasion of the Anarchist Book Fair.

Reilly – v – Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council

Reilly – v – SSCLG and Hinckley and Bosworth BC [2015] EWHC 1957 (Admin) 15 July 2015, Mrs Justice Lang.

The claimant was an Irish Traveller and one of a group of Travellers who lived at a site called the Good Friday Site in Leicestershire.  An application for planning permission was refused and an appeal was made to a Planning Inspector.  The Inspector refused the site permission and gave great significance to highways safety at the access and especially to the fact that there had been a fatal crash at the access when a vehicle was trying to turn in.

Wenman –v- The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (SSCLG) and

Wenman –v- SSCLG [2015] EWHC 925 (Admin), 21 April 2015, Mrs Justice Lang

Mr Wenman is a Romani Gypsy who was seeking permission for a one pitch Gypsy Site for him and his family.  He was unsuccessful before the local planning authority and also before the Planning Inspector. He appealed to the High Court under Town and Country Planning Act 1990 Section 288 on the basis that the Planning Inspector had failed to properly address the relevance of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).  The First Defendant, the Secretary of State, argued that NPPF was not relevant here and what was relevant was only Planning Policy for Traveller Sites (PPTS).

R(Patrick Mahoney, Frances Jones and Rachel Cleary) -v- SSCLG

R(Patrick Mahoney, Frances Jones and Rachel Cleary) -v- Secretary of State For Communities and Local Government [2015] EWHC 589 (Admin) 9 MARCH 2015

In this case, the Claimant Irish Travellers, who have to move from their site to an alternative site due to the Crossrail Project, challenged their inability, under the Land Compensation 1973, to claim home loss payments (unlike the situation for house dwellers).  Unfortunately they were unsuccessful in this challenge.

Best -v- The Chief Land Registrar

R(Best) -v- The Chief Land Registrar and the Secretary of State for Justice [2015] EWCA Civ 17

This adverse possession case did not involve a Gypsy or a Traveller but very occasionally you do come across Gypsies and Travellers who have been on land for many years where it is not clear who the owner of the land is.

The brief facts were that Mr Best had noticed an empty and vandalised property while working on a property next door in 1997. He had been told that the owner had died and that a son had not been seen for years. Mr Best entered the property and did work to it. He replaced ceilings and skirting boards, and electric and heating fitments; he plastered and painted walls. He did this intending to make it his permanent residence. He moved in at the end of January 2012.

Dear -v- SSCLG & Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear -v- Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council [2015] EWHC 29 (Admin) 19 January 2015

Ms Dear had been refused permission by the Council for a Gypsy site and appealed to the Planning Inspector.  The matter was recovered by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (SSCLG).  The Inspector recommended refusal of both permanent and temporary permission and the SSCLG agreed with his Inspector.  Ms Dear appealed to the High Court.

Canal and River Trust v Geoffrey Douglas Mayers

Canal and River Trust v Geoffrey Douglas Mayers Chester County Court 22 November 2013 HHJ Halbert

The delay in reporting this case is due to the fact that it has only recently been publicised and we thank the National Bargee Travellers Association for bringing this case to the attention of the boating community.

An action for an injunction was taken against Mr Mayers on the basis that he did not have a home mooring and that he was not using his boat “bona fide for navigation”.

Lawal – v – Circle 33 Housing Trust Limited

Lawal – v – Circle 33 Housing Trust Limited [2014] EWCA Civ 1514

By David Watkinson (retired barrister) and Chris Johnson (Travellers Advice Team)

In R (JL) – v – Secretary of State for Defence [2012] EWCA Civ 449, the Court of Appeal upheld the Judge at first instance who had held that a proportionality argument could be raised at the enforcement stage of a possession order (i.e. after it had been made and when a writ or warrant to bailiffs to execute the order had been issued) although only in exceptional cases, otherwise it would be an abuse of the process of the court to do so.  Such a case could be where “there is a fundamental change in the occupants’ personal circumstances after the making of a possession order but before its enforcement” (para 41) or, as in this case, the state of the law at the time of the possession hearing was that the proportionality argument could not be made (para 42).  In the recent Court of Appeal Judgment in Lawal – v – Circle 33 Housing Trust Limited ([2014] EWCA Civ 1514), the Court of Appeal added a case where an Article 8 defence had been advanced before the first instance judge but she “either declined to hear it or peremptorily dismissed it but in either case, she gave no reasons for doing so” (para 90, Sir Terence Etherton LJ). 

To read the Judgment in this case, see:

Moore & Coates -v- SSCLG

Moore & Coates -v- Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government & London Borough of Bromley and Dartford Borough Council and Equality and Human Rights Commission [2015] EWHC 44 (Admin)

Ms Moore and Ms Coates are Romani Gypsies who were seeking planning permission for single pitch sites for themselves and their families (in Ms Moore’s case from London Borough of Bromley and in Ms Coates’ case from Dartford Borough Council). Ms Moore had previously been refused planning permission by a Planning Inspector but had had that decision quashed by a High Court Judge and that quashing of the decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal (see the Travellers Times blog ‘Gypsy Woman wins in Court of Appeal’–Comment/Gypsy-woman-wins-in-court-of-appeal.aspx.

Following the quashing of the Planning Inspector’s decision, Ms Moore’s case was returned to another Planning Inspector. Ms Coates had applied for planning permission which had been refused by the local planning authority. She had appealed to a Planning Inspector. The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (SSCLG), Mr Pickles, decided to recover their appeal cases to make the decisions himself.