23/10/17 – Update on Unlawful Encampment at land adjacent to Culham’s Mill

Unlawful Encampment

Many residents will have noted that development at the unlawful Traveller site in the village appears to be continuing regardless of the High Court Injunction.  The Parish Council echoes the frustration that has been expressed by residents.  Following the lead of our County Councillor, we have written to our local MP (Ranil Jayawardena) to request that the issue be raised at parliamentary level.  We are pleased to say that Mr Jayawardena has listened to our pleas and those of neighbouring Parishes and has raised a question in a recent late night Parliamentary debate.  A video of his contribution and his reference to Silchester can be found at the following address;

https://www.facebook.com/TellRanil/videos/10159304532305161/

Whilst this does not solve our immediate issues with unlawful development, it does hopefully begin the process of reviewing both the planning and legal processes which currently appear to be weighted against the rights and views of local residents.  The Parish Council will shortly be writing to the Borough Council’s Planning team to express our view that a reasonable time has now been given to conclude this issue.  Both residents and the Parish Council have witnessed clear and regular breaches of the injunction and we believe that it is now time that enforcement should be pursued without further delay.  A copy of this letter will be circulated to the village.

The travellers community have made an application to the High Court for a variation of the injunction to allow them residential status on the land until the planning process has been concluded.  The hearing was supposed to be heard in the High Court on the 19th of September however it was partially adjourned due to the travellers having submitted last minute evidence.  A limited hearing did take place, however, at which they managed to convince the judge to allow them a single water standpoint on the land for humanitarian reasons.

The new court date is set for the 30th October – 1st November on the Queen’s Bench, High Court, London.  Given the amount of witnesses that the travellers will be calling the judge has set aside a two and a half day slot to hear the case.  No doubt they will provide more evidence to the court indicating that they should be granted rights to stay on the land and this has the potential of circumnavigating the planning process.

At this point in time, it looks like Simon will be called as a witness to represent the thoughts and objections of the residents of Silchester.  The court is open to the public and, given the number of travellers that are likely to be in attendance, it would be nice to have some sort of moral support from the gallery.  It would also provide a clear message to the judge to indicate solidarity in the village.

If you would like to attend the court hearing on one or all days, please could you email your intentions to the Calleva society at callevasociety@gmail.com so that they can gauge the level of interest.

Many thanks

Simon Mahaffey – Chair, Silchester Parish Council

Steve Spillane – Chair, Calleva Society

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