Traveller loses appeal against flat

 

An Irish traveller forced to leave an illegal site failed to persuade senior judges today that a local authority should be obliged to re-home him in a caravan.

John Sheridan, 34, said he had an "aversion to bricks and mortar accommodation" and a psychiatrist concluded that forcing him to live in a one-bedroom flat in Basildon, Essex, "could amount to a death sentence".

But the Court of Appeal dismissed Mr Sheridan's challenge and said Basildon Borough Council had not acted unreasonably or unlawfully in offering the flat.

A council review panel and a county court judge had earlier also ruled against Mr Sheridan, who was living on an unauthorised traveller site at Dale Farm, near Basildon.

Appeal judges heard that Mr Sheridan had a "number of medical and psychiatric problems", a history of excessive drinking and was prone to depression.

His mood would "deteriorate" and he would "become deeply depressed" if forced to move to "bricks and mortar accommodation", psychiatrist Mark Slater had told them.

"He has stated that he would become suicidal and he told me that he would 'drink himself to death'," said Dr Slater.

"Overall, I believe that there would be a significant risk of Mr Sheridan suffering psychiatric harm if he was forced to accept the accommodation proposed by the council.

"I do not think it would be overstating it to say that it could amount to a death sentence for him."

But appeal judges Sir Andrew Morritt, the Chancellor of the High Court, Lord Justice Patten and Lord Justice Pitchford ruled in the council's favour and dismissed Mr Sheridan's appeal.

Lord Justice Patten said in a written ruling - handed down today after a hearing in London in February - that the council had not been "unreasonable", interfered with Mr Sheridan's human rights or made any "error of law".

Council officials had said no traveller plots were available in Essex - and Lord Justice Patten said there was "really no evidence" to support an argument that "possible sites" existed.

He said a local authority could not be required to acquire land as part of a duty to provide accommodation for homeless people.

The council said local health services could deal with Mr Sheridan's "pyschiatric" problems - and Lord Justice Patten said that approach was "not unreasonable".

Judges dismissed similar appeals by Mr Sheridan's estranged wife, Barbara, who looked after the couple's three children, and traveller Mary Flynn.

They said all three travellers had lived at Dale Farm and were eligible for "housing assistance" because they were "not intentionally homeless" and were in "priority need".

Council leader Tony Ball said: "I welcome the decision of the court today, which vindicates the council's offer of bricks and mortar as one that was appropriate. It will also be welcomed by many local people.

"The principles of upholding the law while at the same time treating the travellers appropriately and fairly have been at the heart of this council's approach throughout our dealings with the former Dale Farm community and other travellers.

"We will now continue to work with the traveller community across our borough to address their housing needs where appropriate and possible.

"We appeal to them to engage with us through due process and obey the law. And we continue to appeal to families or individuals who genuinely have nowhere else to go and who we may be in a position to help to get in touch with us."

A spokeswoman for the Traveller Solidarity Network described today's ruling as "disgraceful" and said it "opens the door to the complete destruction of the travelling way of life".

Mary Sheridan, who also used to live on the illegal Dale Farm site, added: "This is terrible news - not just for us, but for travellers everywhere. The law in the UK wants to destroy the traveller way of life."

The illegal Dale Farm site was cleared after the Court of Appeal backed Basildon Council's decision to enforce eviction notices at a hearing in London in October.

Traveller Solidarity Network officials said more than 80 families "displaced" from Dale Farm had registered as homeless and wanted "a pitch for their mobile homes and not a council house or flat".

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Ashdown Group: IT Manager - Salesforce / Reports / CRM - North London - NfP

£45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and reputable Not for Profit o...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger & Credit Control Assistant

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Ledger & Credit Control...

Recruitment Genius: Project Administrator

£16000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Administrator is requ...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn