A TRAVELLER and her planning agent are accused of plotting to get permission for a mobile home which is actually used as a base for unofficial paving firms.

Basildon Council believes Mary McCann does not live at a property called Hatchertang in Hovefields Avenue, Wickford, a public inquiry at the Basildon Centre heard yesterday.

Single mum Miss McCann, 29, gets income support and argues it is a safe haven for four children, aged four to 13.

Yet, several council photographs taken since 2007 show up to 13 vehicles on site, including five caravans, building materials and four trucks used for her family’s driveway business.

Melissa Murphy, for the council, argued information from Oakfield Primary School, Wickford, where two of Miss McCann’s children attend, gave their address as their grandparent’s nearby pitch, Hampton Court.

This is the second inquiry since April 2008 when her appeal was rejected after the inspector ruled she was no longer a gipsy because she had no intention to travel again due to the “hassle”.

The current hearing was ordered in March after she appealed to the High Court using legal aid.

Miss McCann’s planning agent, Alison Heine, of Heine Planning Consultancy, is a specialist in retrospective approval for travellers.

Since her involvement, Miss McCann’s evidence changed to claim she regularly travels to gipsy fairs and during the summer.

Miss Heine blamed this on Miss McCann not understanding the implications of answers given at the previous inquiry. She said she since briefed her and helped compile new evidence.

Miss Murphy said: “The appearance of Alison Heine resulted in fresh evidence coming forward, possibly the result of coaxing. This evidence must not be considered in detail and an assessment of truthfulness and worthiness must be undertaken.”

Neil Costen, council head of enforcement, told the inquiry: “The appellant is saying evidence she gave at the last inquiry was untruthful, because she thought telling untruths would help her.

“I am not under the impression the appellant lives on site on a regular basis.

“There are a fluctuating number of caravans, commercial vehicles and stacks of bricks.”

He said settled residents, too fearful to attend the inquiry, spoke of similar circumstances.