A GIPSY family were rewarded for their years of hard work by being given permission to stay permanently.

Ann Vine spoke movingly of how her family had improved the site in Chalk Farm Road and integrated into the community.

Her account at the Gravesham Council regulatory meeting at the Civic Centre in Windmill Street earlier this month particularly impressed the leader of the council, Councillor John Burden.

She told the committee: "We have lived here for five and a half years and have done everything to comply with the council’s demands. It has been very stressful.

"My four children have all been to school nearby and have made many friends there."

Neighbour Barbara Cousins also gave an emotional account in the Vines’ defence.

She said: "They help with school trips and after-school clubs.

"We are proud to call them our friends and love living next door to them.
"Collectively we have celebrated more than 80 birthdays together.

"We would happily support their application for permanent residency." 

Councillor John Grey, of Higham Parish Council, who had opposed the application, appeared to change his mind after hearing from Mrs Cousins and Mrs Vine.

He said: "That is going to be a hard act to follow.

"If this council can assure us the green belt land on the site can be protected then that will change our position."

Cllr John Burden said: "I’m very impressed.

"In all the years I’ve been doing this, I’ve never heard of a neighbour of travellers speak in such a complimentary way."

Gravesham Council granted the application for the permanent residency of two mobile homes, one touring caravan, utility room and stables, subject to some conditions.

Mrs Vine was visibly emotional following the decision and thanked the committee members as she left the council chamber.