Caravan fight is a big issue

A BIG Issue seller's landlady has said she would rather go to prison than throw him out as the council demands planning permission for the caravan he lives in. A petition, calling for Colin Johnstone to stay in the caravan in Sylvia Sparkes' Burnham gard

A BIG Issue seller's landlady has said she would rather go to prison than throw him out as the council demands planning permission for the caravan he lives in. A petition, calling for Colin Johnstone to stay in the caravan in Sylvia Sparkes' Burnham garden, has been signed by over 500 people and is 30 pages long. Colin has lived in the caravan since September, but may have to move out if council officers refuse planning permission.Sylvia, who owns the caravan: "Sedgemoor District Council wrote me a letter to say it thinks I will have to apply for planning permission to let Colin stay. But that might cost up to £200 and I can't afford it." Since an article about Colin first appeared in the Weston & Somerset Mercury, the Big Issue seller has decided to start a petition to send to the council. He said: "I asked the Big Issue if it would let me start a petition at my stand in Burnham High Street and it agreed. A lot of people have told me the council doesn't have a clue what it is on about and they think I am doing a really good job."Sylvia said: "People have even come to my house to tell me to keep fighting the council. One friend said 'you give them hell girl' and I will. I'd rather go to prison than throw Colin out. If I get alienated in the process, so be it."Colin, aged 59, and Sylvia were told earlier in the month by a council enforcement officer that they could apply for planning permission, but they would probably fail get it. The issue has also been discussed in the forum of a local website. Some visitors referred to Colin as 'Sir Colin', while others called him a beggar. Colin added: "I am not a beggar. Big Issue is a company not a charity and I declare my earnings."I have had offers of places to live from other people in the area. Everyone has been very kind and supportive but ideally I want to stay in Sylvia's caravan. She has been so good to me and it is my home.


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