WALES: Nobody cares about gipsies; That's why I sold them my land for just a dollar.
AN MILLIONAIRE American businessman has explained why he sold gipsies a former coalyard in Holywell for a dollar.
Craig Smith spoke outside a public inquiry into the future of land at Dollar Park in Bagillt Road, Holywell, yesterday.
He said he was appalled at the way gipsies were treated in general, and as he had no wish to develop the land in future, he was willing to allow three Romany familieswho'd moved onto it in their caravans to take it over, andmake it their permanent home.
But not everyone has agreed with Mr Smith. Recently councillors threwout an application for partly retrospective planning from the gipsy families to build ten 10 caravan plots, a septic tank, landscaping, and a communal building.
The inquiry, expected to last until the end of the week, was launched after the families appealed, saying they had already started building some of the facilities, and they wanted to settle down.
But planners say the access is dangerous, there has been no consultation about possible contamination of the land, and dangers of pollution from inadequate sewage facilities, apart from its visual impact near a listed building and on the amenity of the area.
Mr Smith is the former owner of Caernarfon car parts factory Friction Dynamics, which was the was at the centre of the UK's longest industrial dispute after he sacked 86 strikers.
Outside the inquiry he said: "How can people in a civilised first world country be forced to live like this and cannot buy property and be treated worse than any other cultural group I am aware of.
Simply no one cares about them.
"I bought this piece of land, and I did not have any interest in doing anything with it for five or 10 years, but property values in the UK go out of sight, and Iwas going to hang on to it.
"Then they (gipsies) pulled onto it and a senior enforcement officer for the council contacted me in the States and said people were on the site and I needed to get them off and told me all the things they were going to do to me, and he wanted an immediate response.
"I told him very simply I was going to donate it to them and they would be property owners, and they bought it for a dollar.
"I feel very strongly and I am appalled at how these people are treated."
Flintshire council has questioned whether the septic system will cope with the site demands.
But Mr Smith said if it needed the septic tank moving, he would pay for it.
Gipsy Henry Price said his familywere "true Romany gipsies." He said: "We have lived all our lives on the road and want somewhere to settle as lifewas becoming so hard on the road with nowhere to stop."
The inquiry is expected to end on Friday with a decision expected at a later date.
Mr Smith's company Friction Dynamics called in administrators in 2003 and his other company Dynamex Friction called in liquidators in 2006. The 86 sacked workerswon their tribunal but a pounds 750,000 payout was paid by the taxpayer. Mr Smith's new company is in Greenfield, making components for wind turbines.
American millionaire Craig Smith and (inset) gipsy site Dollar Park, Holywell