Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Balance Needed on Travelling People

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Balance Needed on Travelling People

Article excerpt

Byline: By Denise Robertson

Tales of "travellers" descending in large numbers on sleepy English villages have filled the media lately. They barge into a field, install electricity and hard standing and hey presto, before the planners can intervene they've set up a community, which may number 700 or 800 people.

Think of the effect of that on schools and surgeries. Think of the tension in the local pub.

Up to now my sympathies have been with the villagers, who resented such large-scale intrusion and were furious that incomers could flout the very planning restrictions they were obliged to obey.

I still think they have had a raw deal, but a programme on ITV last weekend made me see the other side of the coin. It gave the facts but it looked at them from both sides.

It is no longer acceptable that people should be driven from place to place so that their children are deprived of regular education, they cannot obtain continuing medical or dental attention or get gainful employment.

The Government has spent a lot of money on sites, but many of them are situated in unpalatable places ( one shown on TV was under the flyover of a motorway ( and I couldn't blame anyone who refused to settle their children there. However, one camp for eight families in the village of Tintinhull, where gypsy families had lived happily for years and which had been transformed thanks to pounds 500,000 of Government money, was recently invaded by 100 Irish travellers.

They left when the local council took out legal proceedings, but not before they had completely trashed the camp, causing close to pounds 100,000 worth of damage.

Why did they destroy one of the few decent sites, a place where travellers had been able to integrate and live stable lives? Who can tell?

A spokeswoman for the invading travellers in another area spoke movingly. …

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