A YORK mother has welcomed a High Court agreement over a unique community on the North York Moors where her daughter – who has learning difficulties – has lived for many years.

Lady Gillian Barron said she was pleased by the agreement, which brings a temporary halt to a long legal wrangle over proposed changes by the Malton-based Camphill Village Trust (CVT) to the use of volunteer co-workers at Botton, near Whitby.

But she added: “I think it’s a pity it has come to this, and I just hope that co-workers’ minds can be put completely at rest in due course.”

Lady Barron, and her husband Sir Donald, of Bishopthorpe, and another York couple, Andrew and Jean Faulkes, of Skipwith, have spoken previously of their fears that the proposed changes would disrupt the lives of their respective daughters, Felicity, 51, and Stephanie, 34, who live in homes at Botton with co-workers.

The trust has been arguing that the old co-worker arrangements at Botton could no longer continue and that they needed to be registered as employees, although this did not mean shared living could not continue.

But the campaign group Action For Botton has said that villagers wanted to continue in shared living with co-workers and their children, and claimed trust managers were moving to evict co-worker families from their homes.

The group said the agreement reached in the High Court earlier this week meant shared living arrangements were guaranteed for the next several months.

“The agreement ensures the villagers’ valued lifestyle is preserved and – particularly – that the status quo regarding living arrangements will be maintained for the duration of the legal dispute,” said a spokesman.

“An undertaking between the parties had previously been agreed at an earlier hearing on March 19 and this more comprehensive agreement will now be in place whilst outstanding legal matters are resolved at the High Court.”

The trust said co-workers opposed to change had the option to be treated as employees of the charity until the case was heard in full, which might be some months away.

“The agreement means that co-workers can continue to live with the people we support and receive a salary equivalent to other social care workers,” said a spokesman.