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24th June 2002
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A Little Piece of England
Thursday 4th October 2001 7.30pm BBC2

Charlie Maybe

Dorset planners have evicted a man from the land where he has lived for the past 29 years. Charlie Mabey is now living in an old Land Rover after losing an epic planning dispute over the site near Corfe Mullen.

Southern Eye shows how the 57-year-old burnt his makeshift home and buried his possessions before East Dorset District Council seized his land. Mr Mabey, who comes from a Romany family, says that travellers have always used the site: "If I can't stay on a piece of land where gypsies have lived for a hundred years, then where can I stay?"

Charlie and his wife Ketrina bought the site in 1972. They paid 2000 for an acre of land because they believed it had established use as a caravan site. As ordinary agricultural land, the site was only worth about 200. The Mabeys and their two young children moved into a mobile home on the land, but the planners then decided that the site did not have established use. Their chances of getting planning permission disappeared in 1982 when the land was included in the greenbelt.

Mr Mabey has been refused planning permission twelve times. He has also lost numerous public inquiries and court actions. The courts ordered the Mabeys to remove their mobile home, but they continued living on the site in a caravanette and a shed. The council responded by removing all their possessions from the land in 1996. Ketrina Mabey suffers from multiple sclerosis and the council timed the site clearance to coincide with one of her medical appointments. Charlie Maybe
Charlie & Ketrina Maybe
Ketrina & Charlie Maybe
When Mr Mabey returned to the empty site, he decided that he could no longer look after his wife. "Social services didn't want to know and in the end, my son and I pushed her in the police station and said, you supported the council, you look after her," he says. "What do you think that done to my son and I? We had nowhere for her to go."

Mrs Mabey, who has been in a nursing home ever since, says she would go home immediately if she had the chance. "We were so happy there," she tells the programme. "It's like a bad dream and I still can't believe it."

Mr Mabey was then charged him for the full cost of removing his possessions from the land. When he didn’t pay the 12,000 bill, the council took him to court. The judge decided that the council could take his land in lieu of this unpaid debt and in August of this year he was finally forced from the site.

East Dorset District Council says it has a duty to protect the greenbelt and to recover any costs incurred: "This was only undertaken as an absolute last resort and after the council had sought to assist Mr and Mrs Mabey by offering them alternative housing accommodation."

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