Page last updated at 15:21 GMT, Tuesday, 25 August 2009 16:21 UK

Struggle over gypsy family home

Site where they are living
The family have lived in the area for 60 years

The councillor responsible for housing has said he will stand down if a suitable site is not found for a south Somerset gypsy family facing eviction.

The Hughes family were ordered to leave the Martock site by the Appeal Court as the land is vulnerable to flooding.

South Somerset District Council is now struggling to find the family a legal site as it says the other suitable locations are full.

The family have been ordered to vacate the land, which they own, by 31 August.

The council is due to offer them a house, however the family have said they will not accept it and would instead move to the lay-by of the nearest road.

Deputy leader Ric Pallister, whose portfolio includes housing and inclusion, said: "We are going to crack this one, otherwise I'm going to give up in the end, but I'm certainly not going to give up lightly."

'Failed spectacularly'

Stella Cooper said: "We don't know what to do. All we can do is go on the side of the road.

"We've got to burn the caravans, we've got nowhere to put our animals.

"If we're on the side of the road, where can I send them?," she said of her children.

"There won't be toilets or showers there.

"I can't send them to the school stinking. They have no education, they won't be like normal children. They'll be put away like animals."

Central government has given the council £300,000 to acquire and gain planning permission for new sites and Mr Pallister said he was confident there would be pitches available in the next year.

"If they have to live on the road it will leave me desperately unhappy because I think I would have failed spectacularly in what I've been trying to do for a number of years now, which is to try and make provision for families such as this," said Mr Pallister.

"I want to stop the tension, stop the strife. [If] I've failed on that, I might as well not be here."

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Gypsy family is facing eviction
11 Aug 09 |  Somerset

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