London Telegraph, May 5, 2010
Travellers qualify for special privileges under human rights and race relations law, according to guidelines made public on Tuesday.
It means that local residents concerned that gipsies could bring an increase in crime should be given “little weight” in deciding whether or not they can stay, according to the Daily Mail.
Fear of crime is not “a legitimate ground on which to withhold planning permission,” the guidance said.
The new guidelines also state that gipsies should be allowed to chose their own site if the local council has not provided enough official sites in the area.
The rules state rural settings for sites are “acceptable in principle, while conservation areas and areas of outstanding natural beauty “are not precluded”, and gipsy sites on green belt land are allowed “under very special circumstances”.
The new guidelines for planning inspectors are the culmination of a series of directives issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government over the past five years.
They were made public on Tuesday after Freedom of Information requests.
It comes as villagers in Meriden, Warwickshire, blockade an illegal settlement to prevent travellers getting building materials on to it.
The gipsies had tried to exploit council workers being off over the Bank Holiday weekend to set up a permanent site without planning permission.
Tory communities spokesman Caroline Spelman said: “The British public want to see fair play for all, rather than special treatment being given to some.
“Labour’s changes have undermined community cohesion . . . and caused a tide of resentment in many communities across Britain.”