Harlow councillor Waida Forman reflects on being “harassed and vilified” over traveller stance

Politics / Tue 18th Aug 2015 at 01:24pm

THE COUNCILLOR at the centre of controversy over traveller sites has gone on record to reflect on events over the last few weeks.

A statement from Netteswell councillor, Waida Forman (Lab).

“RECENTLY an Inspector from Harlow police station informed me that he had cautioned Malcolm Mitchell, “leader” of the anti-Traveller group in Harlow, for racist comments made against me in a Facebook group. The comments incite violence and vandalisation of my home. Mr Mitchell also used the racially offensive ‘N’ word. I have lived in England for 24 years serving my community as a nurse, yet this is the first time that someone has been racist to me and I am truly shocked, especially in this year which celebrates 40 years of the Race Relations Act.

I have been misrepresented, harassed and villified for advocating the legal rights of Travellers for permanent sites and highlighting historic injustices. At every stage I have offered solutions that would have been of benefit for everyone in our town and saved money. I have not supported illegal or anti-social acts by Travellers. Indeed, I have encouraged residents to assist local police to stop anti-social behaviour by anyone in this town, however the police say very few complaints against Travellers are substantiated by hard evidence or signed written statements. It’s easy to shout and accuse, but it’s much harder to work together to find solutions.

The Travellers who came to Harlow well over a year ago bought their land in Epping but were refused planning permission and the council obtained a High Court injunction. The planning system has been used nationally by a good number of Conservative district councils, five in Essex, to frustrate the will of parliament and prevent Travellers having permanent sites or developing land they own.

A senior Conservative politician this January was condemned in the High Court for using the planning system against Travellers. In an action by Coates and Moore, backed by the Equality and Human Rights Commision, Judge Gilbart ruled that Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, had unlawfully discriminated against Travellers by “calling in” 100 per cent of Traveller and Gypsy planning appeals from September 2013 against civil servants and the Chief Planning Inspector’s advice.

It was the Conservatives who revoked the 1968 Caravan Sites Act and encouraged Travellers to buy land, but if every Traveller has a planning application refused then where do they go? This institutional racism rubs off on society. Last year someone called me to say that “Travellers should be exterminated and their babies drowned in bucket of water”.

The latent prejudice and hatred against Gypsies was used by the Nazies to justify slaughtering half a million. Is history going to repeat itself? Who will be next? What happened to Equality? Are we going to sit back and watch others persecute minorities and say nothing?”

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4 Comments for Harlow councillor Waida Forman reflects on being “harassed and vilified” over traveller stance:

2015-08-18 21:20:47

Is Cllr Forman aware of Godwin 's law? She also seems to be getting Roma and Pavee confused.

2015-08-19 13:02:55

The Equality and Human Rights Commission is a statutory body established under the Equality Act 2006. It is an independent body responsible for protecting and promoting equality and human rights in Great Britain. The EHRC supported High Court action against Conservative Eric Pickles by Romany Gypsies Coates and Moore because of the general misuse of the planning system to discriminate against them and Travellers. Only 20 per cent of planning applications by Travellers and Gypsies are passed first time, as compared with 80 per cent for the rest of society. Then Pickles used the planning appeal stage to further unlawfully discriminate against them. The court case also proved that use of Green Belt land is NOT a reason to stop Traveller sites. Colchester Borough Council has a classic example of the irrational objection to planning applications for Traveller sites. The council proposed 62 different locations for the Severalls Lane site and received vehement objections via an orchestrated campaign for all 62 locations! So technical objections to planning applications are often used as a cover for people's prejudice and racism. In Harlow's case we can categorically say the anti-Traveller campaign has been led by a racist - Malcolm Mitchell - who likes to use the 'N'-word, a term of racial abuse much favoured by the Ku Klux Klan.

2015-08-27 21:42:29

Malcolm Mitchell is not a racist. He was sticking up for the poor child that was bullied and called the 'N' word by the travellers. He wasn't calling Waida Foreman the 'N' word. Waida Foreman has completely twisted Malcolm's words!!! All Malcolm was trying to do is stick up for all the residents of Harlow who had been affected by the illegal travellers in Harlow. If the council and police had done their job the residents would not have needed to come together.

chris s
2015-08-28 23:02:27

A disgusting twisting of the truth. The local Labour party, through their elected representatives are on record as supporting the illegal encampments. Targeting someone who simply wants everyone to abide the law is perverse.

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