Traveller movement deplore “Scum of the earth” headline

THE TRAVELLER movement has reacted with anger at the front page headline in the Thurrock Enquirer that asked “Why do they act like Scum of the Earth?”

The front page splash centred on the amount of litter allegedly left by a group of gypsy-travellers who had illegally encamped in Claudian Way, Chadwell St Mary.

The piece was written as a piece of editorial comment by the forthright editor, Neil Speight and comes in the middle of a summer which has seen a huge increase in traveller movement in Essex, especially Harlow and Thurrock.

A spokesperson for the Traveller Movement, Mike Doherty said:

“Whilst we do not condone Traveller groups who leave large amounts of mess, we would stress that unauthorised encampments are often caused by Traveller families under huge pressure to move on and move on and move on every two or three days. It sometimes seems to us that the policy of some councils is to eventually drive them out of the borough or into the sea. We would suggest a more tolerated approach to encampments with rubbish disposal and portaloos provided. Councils that do this actually save tax-payers money and Councillors should take note.”

“It’s important for everyone to remember that the council clean-up bill for such incidents are always shared by local Gypsies and Travellers living on authorised and legal sites, who pay rates and taxes in the same way as an anyone else.”

“We deplore the recent hate-mongering headlines (in the Thurrock Enquirer) calling Travellers ‘scum’ and suggesting that the UK’s 300,000 Gypsies and Travellers are all responsible for one pile of rubbish left behind after a single unauthorised encampment. That kind of language does not sit well in a country that considers itself civilised.”

“Gypsies and Travellers are individuals, just like everyone else, not some kind of collective blob that all think the same or do the same. There are Gypsy and Traveller police officers, solicitors, council workers, Olympic medallists, shop assistants, builders, pavers, tax-payers, schoolchildren and grand parents. To suggest that all Travellers are collectively responsible for each other’s mess is racist, dehumanising and absurd.”

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