TRAVELLER racing on the Manorway in Corringham has entered its second day.
On Saturday, hundreds of members of the travellers made the busy road impassable as they held their King of the Road event on the busy stretch of road.
Road users were given a police escort in order to get down to places such as DP World London Gateway.
Essex Police had a full policing operation in place to deal with the horse trotting event held at The Manorway in Corringham this weekend.
The initial plan was to use powers granted under a dispersal order which was authorised for the area but given the amount of people taking part in the event, it was deemed a risk to public safety to enforce this. This decision followed a full assessment by highly trained and experienced public order trained senior officers who were at the scene.
Instead Essex Police engaged with the people taking part to ensure the events took place smoothly and safely for all concerned.
An enforced banning of the event would have resulted in its being held elsewhere which would have increased the risk to public safety.
When policing these types of events officers have to remain open to using different methods to ensure the safety of all those concerned.
Supt Andy Mariner, Superintendent for West Essex, said: “We appreciate that local residents and local councillors were concerned. We did everything we could to ensure this event passed with minimal disruption.”
Chief Supt Tracy Hawkings, Essex Police’s Gold Commander for the weekend, said: “It is disappointing that Essex Police has faced criticism this weekend as to how we policed this event. We endeavoured to keep all interested partners informed and they were aware of how we planned to deal with this to ensure the safety of all involved.
“It was an extremely busy weekend for Essex Police with a number of significant incidents across the county taking up resources. However we were able to move officers around the county including some dedicated to public order events elsewhere to enable us to take action. The overwhelming priority for the police is to ensure public safety. The event today took place with minimal disruption and without incident.
Arrangements are in place for the local Policing Commander to meet with key officials within the local authority and the local Member of Parliament to discuss this event and the planning of future events."
Statement from Thurrock Council
Thurrock councillors and officers were at the Manorway in Corringham at 5am this morning (Sunday 31 July) to ensure Essex Police followed through on their promise to properly manage the prearranged illegal trap racing.
Ward councillors, Cllr Aaron Watkins and Cllr Roy Jones were joined by Cllrs Shane Hebb, Halden and Collins to show support to residents and ensure everybody was kept informed of developments.
Leader of the Council, cllr Rob Gledhill said: “Today was a complete disgrace. There was no road closures or police escort – just one man and a car telling all drivers to slow down!
“Yesterday, part of the Manorway was closed off and police escorted traffic, including heavy goods vehicles to the port, through the chaos at low speeds.
“It wasn’t ideal – the Police should have taken more robust action but that said, they have already acknowledged that they hadn’t anticipated the numbers in attendance or realize how early the event was due to take place – something I am struggling to believe.
“As I understand it, since yesterday, businesses have made changes to their service, like the Port or taxi companies to completely avoid the area. Even one of my councillors was prevented from using the road this morning by a member of public clearly associated with this event.
“Who is protecting Thurrock’s businesses? Who is protecting Thurrock’s legitimate road users? Who is protecting Thurrock’s residents? We certainly know who the police are protecting and it’s clear that it’s none of the above.
“I would go as far as saying it appears that they were happy for the rules of law to be thrown out of the window. It wasn’t so much a police no go area – more a police won’t go area!"
Following this weekend’s concerns, Thurrock Council is holding an urgent meeting tomorrow afternoon (Monday 1 August). Stephen Metcalfe MP, Cllr Rob Gledhill and Lyn Carpenter, Thurrock Council’s Chief Executive and senior police representatives are expected to attend.
Cllr Gledhill added: “We take issues like this extremely seriously. We offered the police our equipment and waste fleet vehicles to block roads and lay-bys but we were told they weren’t needed.
“Yesterday, we were asked to sit around the table for a de-brief and planning meeting with top officers – but later that day, found out the meeting had taken place without Essex Police telling us the time or location.
“We will be investigation that matter – with or without police support. It cannot happen again.”
Cllr Roy Jones said: “I have some questions for the police and I’m speaking to officers to find out how we can hold the Essex Police to account for, what I believe to be, massive failings in communication, protection and management on a serious local issue.
“We were on the ground – we saw what was happening first hand and it was dangerous.
“I heard reports from residents that seven police riot vans were heading towards us on the A130 an hour and half before they arrived. What strikes me as strange is that the police arrived just 15 minutes after the event organisers had said they’d be finished – a full three and half hours after the event started.
He added: “Where were they hiding? How can it take 90 minutes on a Sunday to get from the A130 to Corringham?”