In November 2017 I submitted a Motion on travellers to Full Council. This include the following five proposals:
1, Condemns any language that stigmatises or labels the traveller community.
2, Condemns every instance of race hate language, or support for race hate language.
3, Should encourage greater understanding and tolerance of all minority groups.
4, Welcomes all visitors to the borough. This borough aim is increase visitor numbers, to be a bigger tourist magnet. This local authority should not discriminate at all, nor should it pre-judge the motives of any visitor.
5, Should attempt to find somewhere for travellers to temporarily de-camp when they visit, thus ending the sight of caravans in our parks and open spaces.
When Cabinet considered this it was only partially accepted (parts 1-4 of the motion were supported).
In respect of part 5 of the motion it was noted that the most recent “Gypsy, Traveller and Travelling Showpeople Accommodation Assessment” found that there is no current or future need and therefore no action is required.
|Apparently unrepentant, Cllr Walker|
However, there are regular reports of travellers visiting the borough and parking in whatever open spaces they can find. Clearly, my understanding of ‘need’ does not tally with the Conservative administration’s. The travellers keep turning up, and the unwelcoming local authority treats them badly. They are found guilty by a kangaroo court of councillors and council officers, regardless of whether they have done anything wrong. The mere fact of being a traveller makes them unwanted in their eyes.
Of course, wrong-doers should be punished. Existing and arriving are not crimes.
My motion was drafted as a response to vile comments by Conservative Cllr Walker (Shameful comments regarding travellers from two senior Southendcouncillors) and his friends in the chamber. A year on, and he has yet to apologise.