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Gift of land for villages
8:00pm Saturday 6th October 2012 in News
A GIFT of land to three villages is on course after a four-year legal battle to evict a gypsy family living on it.
Somerset County Council now plans to proceed with the transfer of a wooded beauty spot at Eggwood Hill, Lopen.
It would mean that Merriott, Hinton St George and Lopen parish councils would own the land, which straddles their boundaries.
The land is now used as public exercise and relaxation space, but previously it was the site of a roadside highways chipping store.
Cllr David Huxtable, of County Hall, said: “I’m pleased residents have the uninhibited use of Eggwood Hill again and that we can resume the process of transferring the land to the three parish councils.
“The county council has been frustrated that the legal process of getting our land back has taken so long, so it’s good that we can now make progress with transferring the land for local residents to enjoy.”
A court-set deadline for the gypsy family of eight to move of September 18 was met. A £1,800 clean-up operation was completed by contractors last weekend and the site has been permanently secured. Much of what was left behind had been burnt, including a static caravan, but gas cylinders and a fridge were also found.
The cleaning bill is on top of more than £45,000 in legal expenses and other associated costs paid by the council in taking the occupying family to court and securing eviction since they moved on to the land in May, 2008.