Businesses demand answers over growing numbers of Gypsy Travellers in Harlow

Politics / Mon 5th May 2014 at 10:14am

BUSINESSES have started to ask questions about the growing presence of Gypsy Travellers in Harlow.

The growing concerns come after the area on Third Avenue just next to Flex Meadow has over twelve caravans settled on the cycle paths and verges.

Sources have told YH that the travellers know exactly which pieces of land are Harlow Council land and which belongs to Essex County Council land.

Despite having their critics, Harlow Council’s Community Safety Team have a reputation for being quick off the blocks with their eviction notices as well as following the Travellers as they leave a plot to try to ensure they not re-locate onto Harlow Council land.

Harlow Council have also blocked off areas that were formerly occupied such as the land opposite St Marks school. It may not be much but according to residents it is a lot more than Essex County Council are doing.

Over the last twelve months there has been a growing presence of Gypsy Travellers settling on land around the town. From the “heli-pad area on Second Avenue, Howard Way, Gates roundabout, Third Avenue to name just a few.

YH understands that another group has settled over the Bank Holiday weekend at the back of Burnt Mill Academy.

There has also been a growth in the number of scruffy horses grazing by the side of roads such as Water Lane, Third Avenue as well as on the fields of the former Passmores school site.

As each horse is supposed to have a “passport”, YH plans to question whether each horse has been checked by Essex County Council.

One can only surmise that if the whole cast of Bonanza and the High Chaparal came to Harlow with 300 head of cattle then Essex County Council would have the same reactive look on their face.

A business man, who did not wish to be named, spoke to YH and said:

“The councils need to get strong. This according to the rhetoric is the new land of opportunity, but who is going to move in to new homes or invest in business if they have to drive past travellers camping on the road side?”

YH asked Essex County Council to explain the sudden growth of unauthorised encampments in Harlow.

A spokesperson said: “The unauthorised encampments currently being experienced in Harlow and Thurrock are a result of two groups determined to remain in their respective areas, one moving around Harlow, and the other Tilbury/Thurrock. There is no information as to why this is the case.

“As a local authority we use powers granted under section 77/78 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 to reclaim the land. This is a formal legal process resulting in the issue of a court order to secure the land. This is ensures fair and robust treatment and does not leave the authority open to challenge.

“With reference to provision, there is a shortage of provision on a national basis, plus in addition, there are no Transit Sites/Emergency Stopping Places in Thurrock/Essex.”

We also spoke to Essex County Councillor Karen Clempner.

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