Fairground boy, 3 , wins right to council support while travelling

Malvern Gazette: Judge rules travelling family should get support while roaming outside county Judge rules travelling family should get support while roaming outside county

A THREE-year-old boy from a travelling fairground family who has serious medical problems has won an important High Court ruling that Worcestershire County Council has the power to provide services to his family when they are roaming outside the county.

Mr Justice Holman, sitting in London, said: “Everybody loves a funfair. They are part of the tapestry of our national life.

“But there would be no funfairs without the travelling families who own the rides and amusements, erect them, man them and then take them on to the next site or pitch.”

The judge said the boy, J, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has Down’s syndrome, delayed development and other complex medical problems.

Throughout the season he travels with his family between fairgrounds in England, Wales and the Channel Islands.

The judge said his 44-year-old father had told him he was British but of Romany Gypsy ethnic origin, and a seventh-generation fairground traveller who owned a helterskelter and a bungee trampoline. Both father and mother were descended from a long line of travelling fairground and circus families.

In the winter the family park their caravan on land at J’s grandfather’s home in Malvern, where the amusements and equipment is also stored.

The couple had three children, a six-year-old daughter and twin sons aged three.

The judge said one of the twins had medical problems but it was J who was the subject of yesterday’s legal proceedings, which had been brought on his behalf by his father with the backing of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

The judge said both he and his family needed many forms of help, including social care from Worcestershire County Council.

A report by the council recommended respite breaks to give the mother a rest and time to spend with her other children and suggested the council provide funding for five hours a week at a nursery for J or other respite breaks when the family was travelling in other counties.

But a social services manager stated she was unable to continue to agree nursery funding in other areas once the family left the county council’s borders.

The judge said the council was saying that it “lacked the power to agree”.

But the judge ruled it was mistaken. He said the council must take into consideration the strength of J’s connections with Worcestershire, how far he might travel and perhaps whether or not he would return.

The judge said he had stressed how sympathetic council social service officials and their managers were to the family and how supportive they had been.

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