An Anglican bishop has stepped in to a planning row involving a group of gipsies who have set up camp on a civic centre car park.

About ten families have moved to within yards of Wychavon District Council's offices in Pershore, Worcestershire, in protest at being evicted from land at Eckington, in the south of the county.

The local authority has launched legal proceedings to recover possession of the car park.

The Bishop of Worcester, the Rt Revd Dr Peter Selby, the Bishop's Council of Clergy and lay representatives from across the diocese have now expressed their concern about the situation.

At a meeting they voted unanimously to urge the council to "recognise the needs and lifestyle of minorities living within its borders, including the travellers".

The council should also recognise the "specific needs" of children in the traveller community and "their parents' desire for their children's long-term education, noting that the current constant movement of residence has disrupted the children's education".

Officials should also recognise the "chronic under-provision at a national, regional and local level for traveller sites" and begin discussions to resolve the dispute.

Local clergy were willing to act as go-betweens in any discussions, they added.

The dispute dates back to the May Bank Holiday weekend last year when the travellers bought and moved on to land at Eckington, near Bredon Hill, on the fringes of the Cotswolds.

Wychavon immediately served them with an injunction to prevent any work being carried out without planning permission and ordered them off the site.

There has been a lengthy legal process since then, including a planning inquiry last October which found in favour of the council and its view that the site was unsuitable for development.

The families moved out on April 15 and onto parkland near historic Pershore Abbey after unsuccessfully appealing for an extended period in which to comply with the order for them to leave.

They want to be allowed back on to the Eckington site until a further appeal against the original injunction is heard in September.

The gypsies claim 105 families in the Wychavon area, including those at Eckington, are on a waiting list for council-run sites.

The council insists it has made "extensive provision" for gipsies, with preference being given to local families But they claim the Eckington families appeared to have "migrated" from the South of England and were therefore at the bottom of the list.