Business and residents demand answers over growing number of Gypsy Travellers in Thurrock

gypsyBUSINESSES have started to ask questions about the growing presence of Gypsy Travellers in Thurrock.

The growing concerns come after an increase in the last few months of illegal encampment by the travellers on both public and private land.

As we have been reporting a similar story on our sister site (YourHarlow.Com) it does seem that the travellers know the difference between robust councils (Harlow) and less than pro-active councils (Thurrock and Essex).

Recently, travellers spent eighteen days in the Chadwell St Mary area playing a game of caravan chess with Thurrock Council. For many, that gave an indicaton that Thurrock Council were a “soft touch” and so travellers appeared in East Tilbury and next to the former Thurrock Tech on Chadwell Road.

This has exasperated not only residents but also businesses in that Thurrock Council’s perceieved “lax attitude” is diametrically opposed to the supposed “Regeneration agenda” in the borough.

A businessman, who did not wish to be named said:

“With this sudden growth in illegal encampment, the council need to get strong. This according to the rhetoric is the new land of opportunity, but who is going to move in to the lovely new homes built on the Persimmon site at the old Thurrock Tech if they have to drive past travellers camping on the road side?

We asked Thurrock Council for a response. A spokesperson said: “Thurrock Council, working with its partners in the Essex County Travellers Unit (ECTU), will continue to follow the proper processes as dictated by law.

There are also powers available to the police in certain circumstances, but as far as council-owned land is concerned, the partnership with ECTU utilises its expertise to the benefit of Thurrock people and council tax payers.

The council has 64 official traveller pitches and there are also numerous privately owned pitches in the borough.

We asked Essex County Council if they could shed any light into the cause of such persistent movement over the last ten months.

A spokesperson said: “The unauthorised encampments currently being experienced in Harlow and Thurrock are a result of two groups determined to remain in their respective areas, one moving around Harlow, and the other Tilbury/Thurrock. There is no information as to why this is the case.

“As a local authority we use powers granted under section 77/78 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 to reclaim the land. This is a formal legal process resulting in the issue of a court order to secure the land. This is ensures fair and robust treatment and does not leave the authority open to challenge.

“With reference to provision, there is a shortage of provision on a national basis, plus in addition, there are no Transit Sites/Emergency Stopping Places in Thurrock/Essex.”

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