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June 16, 2019
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Travellers and residents clash over green belt site

England , 26.10.2010 16:14, (ROMEA)

Angry residents of Meriden, West Midlands, have been keeping keeping up a 24 hour vigil against at a traveller site, after four families moved onto a greenbelt zone and started developing the land without permission.

According to the Guardian, the residents are now entering their 160th day of protest, which is being led by former Liberal Democrat councillor David McGrath. The residents are annoyed at what they see as a “brazen disregard of planning laws” and with the help of local MP, environment secretary, Caroline Spelman, residents were able to secure a “stop work” order of any further development on the site.

Despite the protests, the Guardian noted that: “a dearth of local site provision meant the travellers felt they had no choice but to take the law into their own hands and buy a plot of land and attempt to develop it themselves. The traveller families collectively decided to make a pre-emptive decision as they feared that the new coalition government might make their way of life more difficult. Their fears were fully realised, when 20 days after taking power, the new government scrapped the ?32m Gypsy-Traveller Refurbishment and Building Fund, due to so-called cost-cutting measures”.

The residents group known as RAID (Residents Against Inappropriate Development) also lobbied the European Parliament and the European Court of Human Rights in the hope of highlighting what they felt to be “desecration of the green belt in Meriden”, but there was little success on their part.

The travellers and RAID will meet at a public enquiry in a few months.

Nathalia Odwin, The Guardian
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