On Thursday, the UK High Court of Justice called Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (SSCLG) Eric Pickles' policy of trying to prevent Romany gypsies from settling on Green Belt land, the regulated space surrounding urban areas, discriminatory.
"Mr. Pickles has succumbed to the peer pressures of MP John Baron [MP for Basildon and Billericay] and other local MPs and councilors, who feel it is okay to dogmatize and vilify a nation of people, who have been constantly pushed out on the periphery of society, through the failures of those in local political positions to… provide accommodation," Gypsy Council Chairman Joseph P. Jones told Sputnik Friday.
Pickles is "institutionally [and] politically brainwashed by those who have those [discriminatory] tendencies, those who are in local governments," Jones added.
In 2013, Eric Pickles launched a policy of reviewing and rejecting gypsies' bids to reside in the Green Belt.
"In broad terms, the SSCLG has taken steps to recover planning appeals … where they relate to proposals for pitches, whether occupied by one or more caravans, within the Green Belt… from the latter part of 2013, and did so until September 2014," Justice Gilbart said in the ruling.
The case against SSCLG was brought by claimants Charmaine Moore and Sarah Coates, residents of Green Belt areas outside London and Kent and members of the Roma gypsy community. They accused the government of intentional delays in recovering their planning appeals, which they claimed amounts to "unlawful indirect discrimination."
The United Kingdom's so-called Green Belt policy is aimed to prevent the spread of urbanization by limiting developments on agricultural land, forests and other open spaces around metropolitan areas across the country. According to the Department for Communities and Local Government, Green Belt areas constitute around 13 percent of England's land mass.
At the same time, Planning Minister Brandon Lewis claims that the policy to safeguard the Green Belt is non-discriminatory and relates to any planning applicants.
"This Government makes no apologies for seeking to safeguard Green Belt protection and trying to bring a sense of fair play to the planning system. The Government's planning policy is clear that both temporary and permanent traveller sites are inappropriate development in the Green Belt. Today's judgment does not question that principle," Lewis said in a statement on Thursday.