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Womans frustration at changes to Gypsy status

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A Romany Gypsy has highlighted the inherent unfairness of the Government’s new planning legislation.

Lisa Smith, who currently lives on a travellers’ site and works in the education department of her local council, is unhappy that changes to the legal definition of “Gypsy status” do not cater for those who want to continue their traditional lifestyle in a fixed location.

She argues that if she was forced back on the road, in order to meet stricter requirements for seeking planning permission, she would likely have to give up her career in local government and earn a living through a selection of poorly-paid jobs.

In an article for the Travellers’ Times, she said: “The whole concept of ‘Gypsy status’ restricts us Romany Gypsies and Irish Travellers who want to continue to live our traditional way of life – in trailers, chalets and mobiles on a Gypsy and Traveller site – to low paid manual work like agricultural seasonal work that has traditionally been carried out by our communities.

“We should not be placed in this situation and should have the ability to pursue any career we choose without fear of this going against us when it comes to seeking planning permission for a Gypsy site.”

In an impassioned comment piece, Ms Smith makes the case that contrary to the Government’s suggestions that the changes to planning laws would be fairer they will in fact damage the prospects for social mobility in her community.

“Our former nomadic way of life has been criminalised by legislation that has sought to assimilate us and the current changes in ‘Gypsy status’ and planning laws are yet again another attempt to redefine us out of existence by stopping us from settling,” she added.

At Lester Morrill, our solicitors are highly experienced in working with the Roma and Gypsy Traveller community and have acted in a number of high profile cases across the country, including Dale Farm and Meriden. To find out more about how our Public Law team can assist you, please contact us today.

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