Funfair boy wins ruling on council support

Worcester News: Funfair boy wins ruling on council support Funfair boy wins ruling on council support

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 roam outside the county.

Mr Justice Holman, sitting in London today, 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.

"I sincerely hope that, now that the point in issue has been clarified, they and the father and the family can all work together to achieve a good package of services and support for this child in his family, working cooperatively and collaboratively in a child-focused way with any other relevant authorities," he said.

Comments (2)

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7:33pm Fri 6 Dec 13

jb says...

The judge in this case makes it sound like working on a fairground is an essential service! I understand fully the challenges this little lad and his family face but I can see that this ruling has and will open the door to other travellers to nail down a local authority to provide services when they move around the country. Allowing this is one thing but I would imagine if Worcestershire County Council will be footing the bill for respite and other services problems may arise between them and outside councils over costs etc. Also with such complex needs it's worrying that this little boy may not be getting the continuity of care and support he will need.
The judge in this case makes it sound like working on a fairground is an essential service! I understand fully the challenges this little lad and his family face but I can see that this ruling has and will open the door to other travellers to nail down a local authority to provide services when they move around the country. Allowing this is one thing but I would imagine if Worcestershire County Council will be footing the bill for respite and other services problems may arise between them and outside councils over costs etc. Also with such complex needs it's worrying that this little boy may not be getting the continuity of care and support he will need. jb

9:20am Sat 7 Dec 13

green49 says...

So he could then never come back here but be paid for by WCC?

If thats the case i am not sure how that can work with cuts in the offing and no funding, ask Mr Gerathy if he knows what to do he aways seems to have ideas even if they are ?
So he could then never come back here but be paid for by WCC? If thats the case i am not sure how that can work with cuts in the offing and no funding, ask Mr Gerathy if he knows what to do he aways seems to have ideas even if they are ? green49

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