At home in the chamber

A BIG Issue seller has become a member of a town's chamber of trade and commerce, but risks losing the roof over his head. Colin Johnstone (above) is a familiar face in the High Street in Burnham and has been selling the Big Issue in the town for over tw

A BIG Issue seller has become a member of a town's chamber of trade and commerce, but risks losing the roof over his head. Colin Johnstone (above) is a familiar face in the High Street in Burnham and has been selling the Big Issue in the town for over two years. He said: "I'm quite established with people in the area, which is why I joined the chamber. I'm a fully paid-up member of the group and regularly attend meetings. I think it is an important part of town living."People don't realise that people living on the street have a contribution to make as well." Colin, aged 59, has been living in a caravan in a friend's back garden, but could be forced to move out by Sedgemoor District Council. The owner of the house in Steart Avenue, Sylvia Sparkes, has been told by the council that she must apply for planning permission if someone wants to live in a caravan. She said: "I took Colin in last September. The winter months were coming and I hated the thought of him being out in the cold. "He's a very tidy person and never leaves rubbish out. He volunteered to help out at Burnham Carnival and helps lots of people in the community. It just seems like he is being victimised."The council's planning control manager, Christine Miles, said: "If a caravan parked on someone's property starts to be used independently from the main house, then planning permission is needed to change the use of the land. "If someone sleeps in the caravan but uses the house to wash and cook, permission isn't needed. But if it is a separate dwelling, the owners need to apply to the council."Sylvia has been given two weeks to complete a form and return it to the council. If the planning committee rejects her application, Colin will lose the roof over his head. Colin said: "I love living in Burnham and being part of the community. I don't want to leave.


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