A council is evicting a disabled pensioner from a caravan on her own land despite letting travellers live on the field next door.
Retired nurse Jane Andrews, 73, has spent her life savings battling Wiltshire Council, which is throwing her out because her field doesn’t have planning permission for a home.
To fund her fight Mrs Andrews sold part of her land to a travelling family. The council then granted them permission to live there after an appeal, adding insult to injury.
Despair: A council is evicting a disabled pensioner from a caravan on her own land despite letting travellers live on the field next door
Mrs Andrews, who suffered a stroke, said today she has been ‘treated like the scum of the Earth’ by the council.
She received an eviction notice in September 2016 as the land in Winterbourne Earls, only had planning permission for farming and equestrian use.
Mrs Andrews has owned the site since 2014, pays council tax and keeps four ponies and three dogs on the land, which is just over an acre.
She says the mobile home had been put there by a previous owner four years ago with a single complaint.
Her appeals to planning inspectors were refused in March and August and she must now remove the home – which cannot be seen from the road – from the site.
She said: ‘I have had no justice. I have been treated like the scum of the Earth.
‘I’m not asking for planning permission. I’m asking to be able to stay here for the rest of my life.
‘The ponies and the dogs are my life. This has had an awful effect on me, physically and mentally. I am totally drained.
This is the entrance to the land from where retired nurse Jane Andrews, 73, has been evicted
Mrs Andrews said: ‘I am nowhere near as fit as I was last year because I have had anxiety about what will happen and where I will end up.’
‘I am nowhere near as fit as I was last year because I have had anxiety about what will happen and where I will end up.
‘When I cannot manage very well, I will hold my hands up, but just let me stay for the rest of my life, while I am able.
‘Living here keeps me physically and mentally stronger and more stable. I don’t want to be a burden to anyone.’
Mrs Andrews’ second appeal to stay on the site, in August, was refused within weeks of the traveller family who bought the adjoining field from her being granted permission after their own appeal.
She said: ‘I do not have a grudge against them because we get on very well. They are not a bad family – they are clean and tidy. I am sure if it went the other way, they would feel the same as me.
‘My problem is that the council allocated a traveller site just there and my site joins on to theirs.
I have had no justice. I have been treated like the scum of the Earth
‘I do think there’s an irony. I understand that traveller families have different rights, but my argument is where they have granted the site is all open, where mine cannot be seen.
‘I do feel that I have been treated very badly. I have spent my life savings on this and I am now living day to day.
‘I understand I took a chance when I bought the land, but I knew the previous owner had lived there.’
Councillor Ian McLennan, who represents the Laverstock, Ford and Old Sarum ward where the site is located, said Mrs Andrews was not being treated fairly.
He added: ‘At the other end of the site, the land she did sell is in the hands of Romany Gypsies.
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‘They have rights and so does Mrs Andrews. A vulnerable person at the other end of the land has not been given the same rights and we should leave her in peace.
‘In a way, you could say there’s an irony. You have two sets of vulnerable people and they both have rights.
Mrs Andrews has been given a year to leave the site and will be rehomed by the council if she cannot find alternative accommodation
This is the mobile home that Mrs Andrews is being evicted from in Winterbourne Earls
‘We are treating her the opposite way when they should be treated the same.’
Planning inspectors ruled in March that the council’s actions were ‘proportionate and necessary’, despite warnings that the stress of a move could affect Mrs Andrews’ health.
Mrs Andrews is now retired, having spent 15 years in nursing and also working in social care.
Councillor McLennan said Mrs Andrews lives ‘a very quiet life’ and has asked the council to give her a ‘stay of eviction’.
He added: ‘She pays council tax and she’s on the electoral register. On that basis, she’s very official and she is like everybody else.
‘In reality, for her needs and her comfort, she has everything she needs. She gets on well with the residents, so I don’t see any issue.
‘No one has got any issues with her staying there. Most people don’t even know she’s there.’
Mrs Andrews has been given a year to leave the site and will be rehomed by the council if she cannot find alternative accommodation.
A spokesman for Wiltshire Council said: ‘We do sympathise with the situation Mrs Andrews is in, however we would always encourage people to ensure when acquiring land to live on, it has planning permission for that use.
‘In this case, Mrs Andrews’ circumstances were carefully considered by the planning inspector and she has been given 12 months to find alternative accommodation.’