GIPSIES in Minety are the victims of North Wiltshire District Council hypocrisy, it was claimed at a public inquiry.

The authority was also guilty of failing to follow race rules, claimed counsel for families living on the 16-pitch illegal site at Sambourne Road.

Alan Masters, representing the gipsies, told a hearing that the site was closer than the rest of the village to the shops and services of Cricklade, five miles away, but was deemed to be unsustainable.

Yet housing development within the village was accepted.

He added: "There has clearly been a failure to follow the guidelines in relation to the race relations act."

And following the rejection of six possible gipsy sites in the district "there is accepted to be no alternative available, affordable or suitable sites likely to become available for the people to go to."

Saira Kabir Sheika, for the council, said following the previous appeal, which resulted in the gipsies being given temporary approval for 18 months, the secretary of state did not consider the site suitable for permanent planning permission.

Former NWDC planning officer Simon Chambers, giving evidence for the council, said little had changed since the previous appeals although it was true no large gipsy and traveller sites had been allocated in the district.

Six prospective sites had not been supported, but there were other private sites in the melting pot.

"To all intents and purposes Minety has been occupied for five years already. However it has remained an isolated and outlying community. There is little evidence, for instance that those in residence have taken advantage of this relatively settled base to ensure access to local medical services."

The gipsies moved onto the site virtually overnight in 2003 but several attempts to win planning permission have failed, the latest being earlier this year.

He refuted the suggestion that housing developments in the village were always approved. Numerous appeals by applicants had been dismissed.

"It is not, as has been suggested, a racist attack in terms of drawing a red line and treating the applicants differently."