TWO travellers who set up an illegal caravan site have been fined and warned they could be prosecuted again because they still live there with their families.

Owen Lee and Jeremy Wells were “between a rock and a hard place” after they failed to get planning consent for the development and they had nowhere else to go, Mold Crown Court was told.

Judge Philip Hughes told Lee, 42, and Wells, 32, that he had considerable sympathy for them in their predicament.

They would have great difficulty finding an alternative site to live but that was no excuse for breaking the law and failing to comply with an enforcement notice to clear the site, the judge said.

Lee, owner of the site in Daisy Lane, Parkside, near Rossett, was fined £2,000 with £750 costs.

Father-of-six Wells, of the same address, was fined £1,000 with £750 costs.
Both admitted failing to comply with the notice from Wrexham Council requiring the removal of the caravans by last September.

Judge Hughes also warned them that as they still lived at the plot they were committing a continuing offence.

It was in their interest to try to find an alternative site because they could be prosecuted again if they continued to live there, he said.

Prosecutor Brett Williamson, for the council, said enforcement actions and clearing such sites were a considerable burden for local authorities.

The encampment, which had six family plots originally, was set up in May 2008.

Retrospective planning consent was refused and an appeal against the decision was rejected in September 2009. One of the main reasons was the site was in the flood plain.

The planning inspector gave them 12 months to remove all structures and the defendants had admitted that between September last year and April this year they failed to do so.

David Watkinson, defending, said the two men had clubbed together and taken out a loan to buy the plot as a residential site initially for six families. The others had since moved and only the two defendants and their families remained.

Lee was a scrap metal dealer and landscape gardener whose wife suffered an arthritic condition. His teenage son lived on the site.

Unemployed Wells suffered from rheumatoid arthritis and his wife suffered from depression. They had six children between the age of two and 11 who attended local schools.

Letters of support had been written, praising them for the way they had integrated into the local community and asking that they be allowed to stay.

There was a shortfall of gipsy sites in the Wrexham area, no new ones were planned for at least three years and the defendants had nowhere to go. They were literally between a rock and a hard place, he said.

They had searched for alternative sites but simply had nowhere else to go.