Harlow Council leader sets record straight over Gypsy Traveller problem
Politics / Tue 16th Sep 2014 pm30 02:42pm
THE LEADER OF Harlow Council has gone on the record to counter a number of questions and criticisms levelled at his council by Harlow MP, Robert Halfon.
Cllr Clempner said:
As reported in your publication, Robert Halfon MP has started a petition that makes a number of ‘demands’ of Harlow Council and others in relation to Traveller sites.
I of course condemn anyone, Traveller or not, who causes criminal damage, is involved in fly-tipping, anti-social behaviour, intimidation of local residents, or any other criminal activity.
The petition asks that Harlow Council pursue the individuals responsible. I can assure Mr Halfon and your readers that the Council will always pursue perpetrators, or assist the police if it is a criminal matter, where there is specific evidence to identify the individual or individuals responsible and supports putting a case to the court. I assume that Essex County Council will do likewise on their land. If there is specific evidence to identify the individual it should be reported to the police on 101 (or 999 if it is an emergency).
The petition also demands that Harlow Council applies to the Traveller Pitch Funding Programme. I know Mr Halfon is aware (as he was copied in to a letter from the Homes and Communities Agency on this subject) that this funding programme is closed. He will also be aware that the Fern Hill Traveller site – for which presumably he would wish funding for – is owned and managed by Essex County Council, which for some reason he doesn’t mention in his petition.
As Mr Halfon has on a number of occasions recognised that Harlow Council is, and continues to promptly do all it can under the current law, I can only speculate why he has suddenly singled out Harlow Council for attention, while not mentioning Conservative controlled Essex County Council at all (on whose land the majority of unauthorised and illegal sites have occurred).
Harlow Council is taking action to protect vulnerable sites where it can, as it has been doing continually, recognising that over one third of all land in Harlow is open space, and proactively and promptly issuing notices to leave land and taking the appropriate court action to enforce.
As a Harlow resident that lives very close to a number of the locations where unauthorised and illegal sites have sprung up, I share the anger and frustration of the vast majority of law-abiding residents.
The council is however pursuing every possible legal avenue to resolve the situation, and in the meantime is taking what action it can. I hope Mr Halfon continues to recognise the work that Harlow Council is doing, and support fairness for everyone.
Cllr Jon Clempner
while your words are encouraging cllr Clempner, Mr Halfon is only talking out aloud on what the majority of the people of Harlow are thinking and wish to express but are unable to vent it to the MP's who hide behind closed doors. I detect a political attack on one of the paragraphs which is darn right inappropriate for this subject. Surely we need to be working as a community to resolve this, not fighting over party boldness and feeding us information above which is purely lip service about reporting inappropriate criminal behavior... of which most of the sites currently springing up are actually a civil matter of trespass. I'm wondering how fast i'd be moved on if i took a caravan or tent to the civic center entrance?
A joined up united approach is needed - this is beyond party politics. We need solutions not excuses - and all agencies must be working together on this - not trying to score cheap points off each other for political reasons. If you do, our residents won't thank you! As a UKIP member, I support all efforts to solve this - and I say to our law enforcement team - stop being weak and timid - enforce the law, and do it now!