Council to seek injunction to remove travellers on an illegal site

A PLANNING inspector has refused to make a decision over a gypsy site in Wisbech, after saying that evidence over the ownership of the land is “frequently contradictory” and largely hearsay.

Elizabeth Curtis has applied for retrospective permission to create seven residential plots for Romany gypsies at Redmoor Lane.

But Fenland District Council says the gypsies are occupying the site illegally and will be seeking an injunction to get them off.

When the retrospective application was made by Mrs Curtis more than a year ago, she claimed to be the owner of the land and sent in the appropriate paperwork to Fenland District Council.

But she has since admitted that much of the site belonged to the late Reuben Stewart, and back in 2008 he had transferred the title to himself under an alias name of John Cornfield. The council say this made the application invalid.

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In addition, parts of his land were transferred to three other individuals, Lucy Charlotte, Cindy Lee and Paul Holmes.

Mrs Curtis appealed when Fenland District Council did not make a decision on the plan within the prescribed time.

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Planning inspector Wanda Fabian wrote in her appeal decision notice; “Reuben Stewart is deceased and the appellant has provided a signed statement from his widow, which supports the proposition that John Cornfield was an alias of Reuben Stewart, but indicates that she was unaware of the land transfer to that name until after his death.”

Naomi Stewart says her late husband was in support of the proposed use of land as a caravan site and gave permission for Elizabeth Curtis and others to use the land, by an informal agreement in June 2009.

The planning inspector’s report said: “I cannot reach a judgement that the other owners of the appeal site could not have been prejudiced by the appellant’s failure to serve them with notice of the application.”

A spokesman for Fenland District Council said: “We are pressing ahead with our efforts to secure a mandatory court injunction to remove the group of travellers currently illegally occupying a site at Redmoor Lane near Wisbech. We hope to be submitting legal papers to the High Court within the next two or three weeks.”

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