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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 February, 2004, 17:10 GMT
'Real' Gypsies in legal fight
Former gypsy site in Wrexham
The Berry family previously lived on Croesnewydd gypsy camp
A legal dispute to remove a family of Gypsies from land they own in Wrexham could go all the way to the House of Lords.

The Berry family are embroiled in a row with the local council, which argues that they are not true Gypsies because they do not travel.

The authority claims the Berrys do not have the same legal entitlements as other travellers to site caravans on their land.

However, Michael and Flo Berry, who have 11 children and call themselves Gypsies, say they come from a long line of travellers and will always define themselves in that way.

She's more of a Gypsy girl than a bricks and mortar girl
Michael Berry on his wife

"My grandparents have been Gypsies, my dad and mum have been Gypsies all their life," said Mr Berry.

"I am a Gypsy - all my family have been Gypsy people," said Mr Berry.

"The council have brought up in court that my wife is not a Gypsy.

"She's been living with me for 30 years, she's more of a Gypsy girl than a bricks and mortar girl."

The battle started when the couple, who have lived on Homestead Lane in Wrexham since 1999, were refused planning permission and ordered to remove two caravans and some sheds from their site.

However after an appeal, a Welsh assembly inspector quashed Wrexham Council's enforcement notice and allowed the Berrys to remain.

The case was then taken to the High Court in a bid to get the inspector's decision overturned.

It is widely accepted that Gypsies who own land would find it easier to obtain planning permission to house their caravans because of their culture.

But solicitors for the council argued that the Berry family were not really Gypsies because they no longer travelled.

However, Mr Berry said he was unable to travel because he had not been well.

Final decision

"The reason I stopped travelling was due to bad health because I've had a massive heart attack," he said.

"I can't lift a caravan to travel."

In November 2002, a High Court judge ruled that a Gypsy effectively remains a Gypsy for life and he added that their status entitled them to stay on the land.

But the legal wrangle continued and the Welsh Assembly and Wrexham Council successfully appealed over the High Court judge's decision.

Three law lords have already discussed the Berrys' request to take their case to the House of Lords.

They have put the matter on legal ice to give the council and assembly government until Tuesday to lodge any objections.

A council spokesman confirmed that it had submitted concerns but would not say what they were.

It could be months before a final decision is reached.




SEE ALSO:
New row over evicted gypsies
20 Sep 99  |  Wales
Boys guilty of killing 'Gypsy'
28 Nov 03  |  Merseyside



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