Angry parents removed their children from a Warwickshire school because they felt threatened after a group of gypsies set up camp in their village.
The travellers caused uproar when they arrived on the rural site at Darlingscott, near Shipston-on-Stour, next to the home of Olympic minister Tessa Jowell, during the Easter bank holiday.
After a nine-month battle by the local council to evict them, a three-day public enquiry into whether the camp can remain ended at Stratford-upon-Avon Town Hall yesterday.
The travellers’ families, who lodged an appeal against eviction, said they bought 16 plots on the site in October 2007 for £20,000 each. But Stratford-on-Avon District Council refused planning permission for the camp and secured an injunction to stop any more people going onto the site and halt building work.
Coun Christopher Saint said: “There was a lot of local concern when the gypsies arrived. They felt compromised by the sudden appearance and felt it created a negative impact on the community. Several parents removed children and transferred them to other schools.”
Coun Michael Hutchins, of Tredington Parish Council, added: “The junior school has had 11 children from the travelling community with potentially another 21 of school age and three pregnant mothers. If they have to take all these children in one go they would not be able to cope.”
He raised concerns about pollution, flooding and dangerous driving.
Paul Cairnes, barrister for the local authority, said allowing the site to remain would be harmful to the rural area. He said Ernest Wilson, who lodged an appeal against the decision to remove the families resulting in the public inquiry, failed to demonstrate the site would meet a need in the district as identified in the Gypsy Travellers Accommodation Assessment.
The team acting for the gypsies said they had a right to permanent residency.
Barrister Michael Rudd said: “What do you expect them to do? Move them down a mile then they move back a mile. It becomes a never ending problem. There is a clear and undisputed significant regional need for additional pitch provision. The personal need of the appellants is also recognised. The appellants perhaps unusually in such cases have attempted to engage in consultation and were ultimately forced to move onto the appeal site in a last resort.”
During the enquiry members of the gypsy community told of their desire to settle permanently on the site so they could educate their children.