Search

Pensioner 'forced out' of gipsy exhibition

PUBLISHED: 09:33 29 March 2009 | UPDATED: 11:00 12 July 2010

A DISTRICT council has been criticised for banning an elderly woman from a public exhibition about a proposed gipsy and traveller site because she was collecting signatures for a protest petition.

A DISTRICT council has been criticised for banning an elderly woman from a public exhibition about a proposed gipsy and traveller site because she was collecting signatures for a protest petition.

The drop-in session at Spooner Village Hall was the first in a series of events organised by South Norfolk Council which is seeking people's views on nine sites within the district it has shortlisted for potential gipsy and traveller settlements.

These include land at Spooner Row, near Wymondham, which was first identified by the council during initial consultations last year - sparking widespread opposition from local residents.

Villager Isobel Harradine, who is a member of the village hall committee, said she spoke to council officials at the event on Wednesday, asking for the pensioner to be readmitted. She also contacted the authority at its Long Stratton headquarters to try to get the ruling changed.

"The woman who was banned from the hall is over 70 with arthritis and she had to stand outside on a verge all day. A lot of people were extremely concerned and angry that she was excluded," Mrs Harradine said.

"I could understand it if she was waving a banner and shouting, but she was not belligerent. She had got forms there for people to sign.

"I did try to go through channels to get it (the ban) changed but it didn't work. They were not prepared to use any humanitarian grounds let alone democratic. The council's attitude was we have booked this hall for our purposes. I said I thought it was for the benefit of the village!"

However, Ronnie Hoare, chairman of the South Norfolk Council gipsy and traveller working group said: "The purpose of these consultations is to consult and discuss possible differences of views. Any individual who interferes with the meeting detracts from this purpose.

"The council has no objection to petitions

and in fact has a standing order to review them. But there are better ways to

collect signatures for a petition which are in keeping with the spirit of a helpful drop-in session."

The council is looking to make up a current shortfall in provision for gipsy and travellers and their families. The shortlisted sites are at Spooner Row, Suton, Stanfield, Ketteringham, Brockdish, Earsham and next to the A47 Thickthorn junction.


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Diss Mercury. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Diss Mercury