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Labour ask for urgent talks as Gypsy-Travellers play “cat and mouse”

Politics / Mon 19th May 2014 am31 09:04am

AN ESSEX County Council member for Harlow has demanded urgent talks with Essex County Council as Gypsy_Travellers have moved from Third Avenue to Katherines Way and now to Southern Way.

Cllr Karen Clempner said: ” I share the significant concerns of local residents and businesses on the impact of the current large group of Travellers in Harlow.

When these particular travellers stop on Harlow Council land, the proactive approach taken by Harlow Council’s Community Safety team ensures they are moved on quickly. When they alight on Essex County Council (ECC) land in Harlow the process seems to the considerably longer, and a cat and mouse process of the travellers moving short distances following each possession order is repeating all over Harlow.

They have recently moved from Katherines Way to Southern way.

I formally raised the issue at the Essex County Council meeting of the 13th May, but unfortunately this has reinforced the impression that not enough is being done.

I have today written to the relevant ECC officers and members urging that a multi-agency meeting with Essex County Council, Harlow District Council and the Police is set up urgently, with a view to taking decisive and urgent action (full text of the letter below). I will continue to pursue this until the appropriate steps are put in place to resolve the issue.

Letter to Essex County Council – 19th May

As I am sure you will be aware, there is a significant problem with Travellers in Harlow over recent months. While I respect the right for Travellers to follow an alterative itinerant lifestyle, these rights come with responsibilities to harmoniously coexist with the local settled population, local businesses, and to respect the environment. There have been significant issues with rubbish and detritus, churning up road side verges, blocking cycle tracks and even some reports of intimidation and human excrement.

When these particular travellers stop on Harlow Council land, the proactive approach taken by Harlow Council’s Community Safety team ensures they are moved on quickly. When they alight on Essex County Council (ECC) land in Harlow the process seems to the considerably longer, and a cat and mouse process is repeating all over Harlow

In reply to my question at full council on 13th May, Cllr Jowers replied that it is unlikely that the Travellers would be able to differentiate between Harlow and ECC Highways – something we know to be true as the Travellers themselves have explicitly said so, and apparently specifically ask what land they are on. Over 75% of the sites alighted on in the last 6 months in Harlow have been on ECC land.

In addition it was made clear that ECC make no financial contribution to the clear up following occupation of ECC land.

There is a strong suspicion that ECC are ‘dragging their feet’ in Harlow, with concerns being expressed by local residents and businesses that ECC re seeking to contain the problem in Harlow as some kind of holding camp. Speculation as to the future movement plans of the Travellers seems to be adding to the inertia over taking proactive action.

The current large group of travellers are moving very short distances following each possession order.

I understand that calls by my local MP for the police to exercise their powers under Section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Act 1994 cannot be executed as highways land is excluded from the Act.

I have asked whether steps could be taken to extend the ‘no-return’ area following a possession order, perhaps with an area injunction of the Local Government Act 1972. This is something that I believe Harlow Council are in favour of and would seek to take a joint action with ECC.

I would like to see an urgent multi-agency meeting with Essex County Council, Harlow Council. elected members of both authorities and the Police, to consider proactive steps to address the problem, and allay fears that ECC may not be taking the problem in Harlow seriously.

I hope you would agree with me that this problem needs to be tackled more proactively, and would be able to facilitate such a meeting.

Karen Clempner
Councillor – Harlow West

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1 Comment for Labour ask for urgent talks as Gypsy-Travellers play “cat and mouse”:

Lee Dangerfield
2014-05-19 13:22:55

For them to go where? The next road or the one after that? You can't even get the police to serve a section 61 your in the land of noddy. Perhaps you need to really do what your paid to do and direct officers and the same be said for your party in Harlow. No clue no ideas.

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