Travelling families in campsite plea

PHOTO: NEIL CROSS'Traveller Patty Linfoot at the site on Hut Lane, Heath Charnock, Chorley

PHOTO: NEIL CROSS'Traveller Patty Linfoot at the site on Hut Lane, Heath Charnock, Chorley

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A group of travellers will hold a public meeting this week as they continue their ongoing struggle to remain on their Chorley campsite.

The travellers - two Romany gypsy families living on land at Hut Lane, Heath Charnock - say they want the wider public to hear of their plight.

The families – the Boswells and the Linfoots – have been locked in a three-year struggle with Chorley Council who want to remove them from the site.

Six months ago they were told to leave their land – where they live in six caravans – after an appeal against their campsite was dismissed.

An inquiry decided the development, on green belt land, would cause ‘harm to the character and appearance of the area’.

The decision, by the Planning Inspectorate, came two years after a similar application for a larger development was refused.

But one of the travellers, Patty Linfoot said: “We just want to let Chorley people know what’s happening.

“Chorley people don’t know what the council are doing to us. The meeting is open to anybody, supporters or non supporters.

“They can talk to us and ask questions and they can see a bit of a slide show.”

She said the families were determined to stay, especially for the children.

“My little boy is 11 and has just started secondary school this term.

“We have got to stay. It’s for the kids. This is the whole point.

“Keeping the kids in school – this is my one hundred per cent thing behind this.

“If it wasn’t for the kids I cope couldn’t cope with it.

“We are determined to fight all the way.”

The public meeting is planned for the Fosterfield Day Centre, Eaves Lane, Chorley, tomorrow, Thursday, between 6pm and 8pm.

Representatives from Manchester-based human rights organisation Rapar have been invited to attend and speak at the meeting.

Jon Boswell and Michael Linfoot have pleaded guilty for not complying with enforcement notices for the site and sentencing is due to take place on November 12.

The council said a civil action – to get an injunction to move the families off site – is expected to go to a hearing at the county court some time in March 2013.

The authority said this was a last resort for the council which added “it had done everything it can to move them on”.

A High Court hearing is also due in November.

An initial planning application was refused and went through to the High Court where the judge agreed with the council.

A second application was submitted, for a smaller number of caravans, which was also refused by the council.

This has gone to the High Court where it is due to be heard on November 7.

The dispute dates back to June 2009 when travellers set up home on the land at Heath Charnock.