Zero tolerance! Police boss Nick Alston slammed by Harlow MP Robert Halfon

Politics / Fri 18th Jul 2014 at 11:24am

ESSEX Police Crime Commissioner, Nick Alston spent much of his life in the navy but judging by this interview with Harlow MP, Robert Halfon, Mr Alston may be out of his depth when it comes to his role in leading on the “unprecedented” gypsy-traveller problem in Harlow.

Mr Halfon believes there is the legislation available to deal with the situation.

Mr Halfon was particularly annoyed that Mr Alston, whilst in Harlow on Monday, to discuss the situation, ducked out of an opportunity to enter into face-to-face meetings with gypsy-travellers due to a pressing engagement.

YH caught up with a busy Robert Halfon as he was meeting constituents in Harlow Town Centre.

Earlier in the day, Nick Alston, Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, said:

“On the morning of Monday July 14, I was pleased to facilitate a meeting in Harlow, called at short notice by Robert Halfon, involving Harlow’s MP, Essex Police, local and county councillors, and other representatives of the local community, to address concerns about traveller encampments in areas such as Third Avenue, Latton Common, and Harlow Common. It was also important to satisfy myself as Police and Crime Commissioner that the police response was appropriate.

“I felt there was a frank and open exchange of views at the meeting, and a constructive recognition of the different roles and areas of responsibility of the various agencies. It was agreed the discussion would finish at 9:15am to enable the group to take a tour of the various sites, but it did not finish until 9:45am.

“Unfortunately, I had a long standing and pre-existing commitment which meant that I was not able to join the tour. I did however visit two of the areas where travellers were at that stage camped.

“I will continue to listen to the voices of all the communities of Essex, and my own actions will be determined by a clear
set of principles.

“Firstly, my expectation is that Essex Police continues to deal with illegality and unlawful behaviour fairly and firmly, acting on the basis of the available evidence. Assistant Chief Constable Wortley is clear that Essex Police will always enforce the law
without fear or favour.

“Secondly, there needs to be co-ordinated working between all the parties – particularly Essex Police, the local council, Essex County Council, landowners and travellers to deliver both short and medium term solutions to these issues.

“Thirdly, councils across the country are encouraged to ensure there is adequate provision for travellers in their area, and in Essex this would most likely include a very small number of dedicated transit sites. I am disappointed that there is not a single transit site for travellers in our county, as the provision of such an area might help to prevent some of the frustration which we are seeing in Harlow.”

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5 Comments for Zero tolerance! Police boss Nick Alston slammed by Harlow MP Robert Halfon:

2014-07-18 13:53:44

Why do we need a transit site? There are already two traveller sites in Harlow, why do we need a third? And why in Harlow - the smallest district in the county? We need our spaces for amenity. And who would pay for the transit site, to service it, provide water and drainage - and to clear it up? The travellers? Probably not. But Harlow Council needs to make sure its open spaces are secure, gates locked, ditches and embankments maintained, to avoid these incursions in the first place.

Lee Dangerfield
2014-07-18 14:02:35

Like it should have been on move from the common when all agencies knew they was moving down the road. Why?

2014-07-18 14:52:27

'But Harlow Council needs to make sure its open spaces are secure, gates locked, ditches and embankments maintained, to avoid these incursions in the first place.' Why should WE have to make OUR open spaces secure? We shouldn't have to worry about that sort of thing in the first place. Why does Harlow have to make space available for people (that chose this lifestyle) just in case they fancy stopping off here for a while? We have 2 sites (too many) as it is, they should go there. Meanwhile the Harlow residents pick up the tab and the Council cuts services as they are short of funds.

Jackie Brown
2014-07-19 10:35:55

I think Simon is right, what appears to be happening is that they know they will be move on, so check out their next site before they are moved. It is frustrating to have access to open spaces blocked, but unless they are, it will be a vicious circle. The Council are unlikely to recoup their legal costs involved with this, or the cost of clearing the sites which have been chosen. I noticed yesterday that the concrete barrier near to where I live has been tampered with, it is a new barrier, just put up in the last couple of weeks, it looks as if someone has tried unsuccessfully to remove the metal frame from around it. I hope that Robert Halfon will pass his documents to Harlow Council to allow them to deal with the issues.

2014-07-19 10:58:41

Why do we have to watch as these 'travellers' keep moving from place to place and destroy the local area. We hear time and again that it is the responsibility of Harlow Council, Essex Council and the Police to work together to move these people on. It seems each of those agencies use this as an excuse to pass the buck. Harlow Council and Essex Council don't seem interested in protecting our environment and the Police seem scared to confront these people. It's obvious that issuing section 61 notices does not work. The travellers just move to the next site to destroy. These notices should have a time period attached that stops movement back to the same site for 6 months. We are facing cuts in public spending on Harlow amenities, whilst at the same time our Council Tax pays to clean up after these people, I know where I'd prefer my money to be spent. I see that Harlow MP Robert Halfon is also taking up this fight and has written a strong letter on his Blog, I urge you to read it and take his advise. To the ‘travellers’ blighting our spaces I say “Harlow has had enough of you, keep traveling and find a place away from us.”

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