The drama unfolded when seven caravans moved on to the historic site in the shadow of a 13th century church under cover of darkness after removing part of a wooden fence rail at its boundary.Oooh, that’s surely criminal damage, isn’t it? Why were the police not fining them?
Still, one intrepid villager, perhaps with the Meriden community action in mind, decided he wasn’t going to just lie down for this.
Or rather, he was:
The pensioner lay down across the missing section as five more caravans arrived at the site yards from his home.Bravo!
At one point the 70-year-old man was on the ground with his face almost touching the wheels of a truck towing a caravan which had stopped with its bumper over his head.He’s got guts, I’ll say this for him.
But then someone called the police, and that’s when everything went to hell in a handcart:
The man, who didn't want to be identified for fear of reprisals, said: 'The police arrived and told me to move. I asked them for their inspector's name and they refused.*sigh*
'Meanwhile, the travellers were threatening to come back and ''sort me out'' but the police did not act on that. I was so disgusted I went home.'
The caravans moved a short distance away while police guarded Yardley Old Park in Yardley, Birmingham. But after 30 minutes officers left, allowing the mainly Irish travellers access to the beauty spot which is bordered by the medieval Old Grammar School and Grade I listed St Edburgha's Church, which dates back some 800 years.Oh, FFS..!
Tim Moon, 28, whose family home overlooks the 30-acre park, said police seemed 'more interested in keeping the traffic moving' than stopping more travellers from getting in.I expect it was a lot easier to bully one 70 year old pensioner than risk tackling a gang of people intent on trespass, who might have put in a complaint that their rights weren’t being respected...
He said: 'We heard a commotion and I saw this man lying across the pavement where the travellers had removed the fencing. Travellers were standing over him and gesturing for him to move. One man tried to drag him away by the feet.
'The caravans were blocking the road and traffic was backed up in both directions - the police seemed to just want to get the cars moving again.'
Suzanne Lyons, 56, whose home overlooks the park, said: 'We needed help from the police but whilst there was a lot of finger wagging going on, there hasn't been much action.'Same as it ever was…
Even the council didn’t get any further:
Liberal Democrat councillor Neil Eustace said the council had asked police to immediately remove the travellers as soon as it became aware of the problem last Friday, using powers to tackle trespassers, but officers had refused because in most instances it is considered a civil, rather than criminal offence.Let’s hope the council bear this in mind when it comes time to tot up the budget for policing, eh? In fact, I'd make a point of totting up the bill for the clean up that will no doubt be incurred and reducing the policing budget by exactly that amount. Maybe then, they'll get the message.
Did the police have anything to say in their defence?
Superintendent Mick Gillick from West Midlands Police said officers advised the pensioner to move 'for his own safety'.Probably correct. He wouldn’t want to end up as another Tomlinson…
Then we were treated to a fine display of ACPO-friendly jargon:
'Local officers are listening to residents and other stakeholders to ensure their concerns are recorded and investigated where necessary.'FULL HOUSE!
Whoops, sorry, got carried away with the buzzword bingo there…
Note that none of those statements imply any responsibility by Supt Gillick to actually DO anything to resolve their problems. And by god, he’ll do anything to deny that there was a time when the police might have had the opportunity to do something…
He said around six caravans had entered the park from a second entrance before the pensioner's protest.Well, who are you going to trust?
But residents said all caravans entered from the spot the man was attempting to guard.
The leading police blog has an article about the budget crisis affecting the issue of personal safety equipment. No doubt the people of Yardley might wonder why they should get exercised about that, when it seems the police in their area have plenty of ways to ensure they never need it....