Saturday, 11 February 2012

Gypsy family can live at park permanently - St Columb

From the Cornish Guardian:

A GYPSY family has been given permission to set up home permanently on land near St Columb, despite opposition from the town council.

Tina Watson has been living at Mandalay Park, near Roserrans Farm, on a temporary basis since 2002.

But now the family, which includes Mrs Watson's two sons, daughter and six grandchildren, can officially call the site their home.

The news means they will be able to plan for the children's future and fully integrate into the community, according to a Cornwall Council liaison officer.

It is also hoped that the clean-living family will help turn negative preconceptions about Gypsies and Travellers on their head.

Members of the council's central sub-area planning committee voted unanimously to allow the family to use the park as a permanent address at a meeting last Wednesday (January 4).

The decision was made in spite of concerns raised by St Columb Town Council that the move represented overdevelopment of a rural area.

The site includes three mobile homes, two touring caravans and a day room.


In a report to the committee, a Gypsy and Traveller liaison officer said: "Mrs Tina Watson and her extended family are deserving of the above permission that will give a future to the school-age children and allow the family to plan in terms of their welfare, health and employment prospects knowing that they have a permanent address.

"Mrs Watson and her family have shown through their cleanliness and orderliness that far from being a blot on the landscape, which some mainstream people see as stereotypical in Gypsy and Traveller lifestyle, they have created a very high standard at Mandalay Park which can only enhance the rural area in which they live and also convince the local, settled community [of] the family's willingness and commitment to integrate and assimilate."

In the same report, planning officer Gemma Halstead said: "The application is recommended for approval as it is considered that there is a pressing need for more Gypsy sites and planning permission in this case would allow the site to make a contribution to meeting the need.

"The site is relatively well screened from the adjoining highway and although the development could not be said to protect and enhance the character and appearance of the area, it is considered that the harm is limited and localised."

Speaking at the meeting, Councillor John Fitter said: "It's a well-kept site. It's not intrusive into the area and I've no problem saying I will support this."

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