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Fury at van site prosecution decision

PUBLISHED: 14:29 05 September 2008 | UPDATED: 11:00 08 July 2010

A caravan site owner has said he is disgusted that a Norfolk council looks unlikely to bring a prosecution over the illegal parking of caravans during Watton's controversial horse sale.

A caravan site owner has said he is disgusted that a Norfolk council looks unlikely to bring a prosecution over the illegal parking of caravans during Watton's controversial horse sale.

Norman Phillips, who owns a caravan site next to where caravans of people attending the twice-yearly fair go, said that Breckland Council was ignoring its own code on when to seek prosecutions, after a meeting of the authority's overview and scrutiny commission group on the issue.

The group backed a report on the long-running issue by Mike Horn, Breckland's head of legal services, which outlined why they shouldn't prosecute a landowner who has allowed caravans to stop on his land next to the horse sales, held in Thetford Road since 1971.

Mr Horn had said although the stationing of caravans on nearby land was a “criminal offence” - because it was without a caravan sites licence - it was not in the public interest to prosecute.

“If we did not have them on that one site they would be scattered throughout Watton,” he said.

But Mr Phillips said: “They say themselves the law is being broken but they won't do anything about it. I have to strictly adhere to the law in the running of my site; it is justice for one and not the other.”

Councillor Keith Gilbert also said he was “disgusted” at the decision.

He had argued it would set a precedent, that the council was not following its own prosecution guidelines and that the decision was not in the public interest, as argued by officers.

John Milton, woodlands officer for Norfolk Wildlife Trust, said he was concerned that there was no legislation to stop the sales spreading, having already spread considerably in the past 10 years.

Thousands of people attend the fairs in May and September each year.

This weekend's sale has been cancelled by organiser Tyrone Roberts - he said after the farmer who owns the site decided against letting it out following pressure from local people.

Mr Roberts said yesterday that the sale would never be held at the same venue again and that he was still looking for another venue, possibly outside Norfolk.

The decision will still have to go before the council's cabinet and full council.

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