As you ponder your future after today’s general election, spare a thought for the good people of Meriden, West Midlands.
They have been forced to blockade country roads and form human barricades in what may well be a vain effort to protect the peace and tranquillity of their pleasant village.
A report in the Express tells how the residents have been forced to take this direct action because the law of the land cannot or will not help them.
The village is faced with the formation of an eight acre sized gypsy camp right on their doorstep. it is believed that the gypsies own the rights to the land purchased for Â£50,000 in Sept 2009. The associated planning permission application was given to the Solihull Borough Council ten minutes before the office closed for the bank holiday. within moments the diggers arrived.
Direct action by the locals managed to turn away 90 aggregate lorries. They also have a 28 day emergency stop order, but when this runs out they may be forced to stand back and watch the camp be built.
The locals, who have to abide by every law in the book, are being invaded they say by a group of people who have special status above theirs in the eyes of the law.
Under EU inspired law, gypsies do not need the same planning permission as house dwellers to erect permanent sites. They also get preferential access to healthcare and education. it transpires that, in the eyes of these gypsy specific rules “aversion to bricks and mortar is a recognised condition … the sense of enclosure can be Âdistressing to people who have been used to outdoor living”.
The locals’ assertions that crime would increase are also to be “given little weight”.
The spokesman for the action group David McGrath said: “We will do whatever it takes to win this campaign. People power will prevail here. What is happening here cannot be right and will be resisted. I run a business and I can’t sneeze without needing planning permission for one thing or another. It cannot be right that the human rights of one group of people override everything else. What about the human rights of the settled community? They are being completely ignored.”
In response the travellers have said that now they are there they intend to stay.
I do not envy the local police who, at the end of the day, will be forced to take the side of the gypsies against the local residents many of whom they will know. I suspect we will see another constabulary supplying the men required to enforce the gypsies’ enhanced rights so as not to further inflame the situation.