Work to fix a badly potholed road has been put off for fear of upsetting travellers at Europe's biggest illegal camp.And so we have the perfect storm – do-nothing public sector workers in a standoff, with the innocent residents (including, as we’ll see, the travellers themselves) tossed on the waves and forgotten…
Residents in Crays Hill, Essex, today complained that their once-peaceful road has become a crater-filled track since the 1,000-strong Dale Farm camp was formed.
But police and council workers have ruled out fixing it because they are worried about rioting by travellers who could think they are about to be evicted if workmen turn up.
Essex County Council wants to resurface the road but will only send workmen with a police escort. Essex Police has turned down requests saying it may spark fears in travellers that they are about to be evicted.So, each party shrugs their shoulders and says ‘Not our fault, it’s the other bunch!’...
Or treats it as a ‘make work’ opportunity:
MP John Baron wrote to Basildon Police Chief Inspector Simon Dobson asking for a police escort for road workers but was told before any work was done experts would need to consider 'traveller engagement'.Wow! What a lot of non-work we have there, requiring (no doubt) many meetings, and focus groups, and the involvement of all the various hangers-on and special interest groups that surround the thorny issue of travellers and their rights like flies round…well, you get the idea.
He said before any potholes were filled they would need to create a network of people to negotiate with the travellers, send a clear and consistent message and hold an open meeting so travellers could ask any questions about the works on Oak Lane.
Chief Inspector Dobson added that the issue ‘required a clear communication strategy to minimise the risk of any false perception by the local travellers that the works are a pre-cursor to any enforced eviction'.Spoken like a true modern Chief Inspector – pure management-speak, taking twenty seven words to say nothing at all, other than ‘We’re frightened to…’
Pam Cummins, a parish councillor, said: ‘Talk about tip-toeing around people. When they fixed the road outside my house they didn’t come and ask me first.’Me neither, Pam.
Oh, wait. They haven’t fixed the road outside, it is yet again full of potholes after the weekend’s rain…
PC Nigel Scott said leaflets are going to be given out at the local school which has predominately travellers children as pupils to explain the work is to be carried out.And from whose budget does this come, I wonder? These leaflets won’t come cheap. Better hope it’s not out of the road repairs budget, or there’ll be none left soon to fix the potholes at all!
He said: ‘If they think there is an eviction there will not just be people from Dale Farm but half the site in Cambridge and half the people from Wolverhampton turning up.
‘It could all turn very weary very quickly’.
And are the travellers pleased that their reputation is so fearsome that the council and police regard them the way South Sea Islanders regarded their volcano gods centuries ago, with trepidation and fear, as something to be appeased?
Surprisingly, no. Probably because they need to travel on the roads
Even the travellers think the process to fill in a few potholes is longwinded.Quite.
Gratton Puxon, a spokesman for the families, said: ‘I think I speak for everyone when I say the police are not needed.
‘People at Dale Farm want the road fixed as much as residents. It should be done without the need for this rigmarole.’
Own goal, Righteous, own goal yet again…