UKIP councillor for Stanford reflects on Travellers on Manorway

STANFORD East and Corringham Town councillor, Roy Jones gives his report on the events at the weekend and since.

Cllr Roy Jones said: "As Local Ward Councillor I was the first on the scene at 7am on Saturday 30th July to witness first hand the travellers pony and trap racing event on the Manorway called ‘The King of the Road’ event.

"I was the first and only councillor to witness and question how Essex Police approached and handled this event. They stated that they had been caught out and had expected the event to be held on the Sunday, hence the low numbers of police in attendance. I pointed out to the police that I, and Thurrock Council was aware that the event was going to be staged on Saturday and the Sunday, that’s why the dispersal order to move travellers on was for Saturday 30th and Sunday 31st July.

"The police pointed out to me that they were shocked by the large numbers of travellers and vehicles in attendance and because of the low numbers of police, implementing the dispersal order was not an option and so the next plan was to carry out safety measurers which meant working with the organisers of the event to just run a police vehicle escort service between races for the people working and oil tankers travelling up and down the Manorway conducting deliveries. So anyone that wanted to get to and through to work or the oil tanker drivers and other transport operations had to sit in queue’s at each end of the Manorway until the travellers gave the go ahead to the police to escort the convoy through the crowds.

"This was a highly organised event which attracted at least 500+ travellers and at least 200+ vehicles on Saturday. It’s odd to me that the police stated they were caught out and yet the burger food stall was open both Saturday and Sunday and must have done a roaring trade.

"The police stated that they did implement the dispersal order on both the Saturday and Sunday but this was after the travellers had finished racing and were packing up to go home.

"I was the Councillor that let the media know what was going on and raised the issue with the local community informing them I was getting nowhere with the police and could not raise any higher ranking police offices to address the issue.

"I received support and back up from other Councillor by about 11:30am on Saturday and this was most welcome because by now the police had shut shop and made it quite clear that they were not going to have any conversations with me what so ever over the issue. I was even told by one officer that I was getting in the way of them carrying out their duty which by the way was still police escorting services when the travellers give to go ahead.

"So by now, I even as a ward councillors supporting my community felt intimidated not only by the travellers but by the police attitude as well.

"At this stage I was on my own sitting in my car refusing to move at the far end of the Manorway watching the police escort convoys. I was approached by the police, me thinking this is it Cllr Roy Jones you are going to be told to leave or else, but the mood and tone of the police had changed. It was simply to ask, would I mind travelling behind a police escort back up to the top end of the Manorway to collect our local MP Stephen Metcalfe which I agreed to do. This was getting on for midday.

"We were informed by the police that there was to be a meeting held late Saturday afternoon to discuss what to do on Sunday as travellers had stated that they intended to hold 5 races.

"Essex Police went ahead with their meeting and decided that against all opposition from local councillors, residents, to grant the travellers their demands and let the travellers stage 5 races on Sunday.

"The event was staged on Sunday and I was on hand to witness this at 5am. Other Councillors arrived between 5:30am and 6am, good to have support.

"Because of events of the weekend it was stated that a meeting was to be held at Thurrock Council Offices on Monday afternoon between the CEO, Senior /Essex Police Officers, MP Steven Metcalfe, Thurrock Council Leader Rob Gledhill and what I thought was to be other leaders and myself as Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Local Ward Councillor who raised the issue in the first place. Remember this was meant to be ‘cross-party’ involvement.

"Both I and my Leader Cllr Graham Snell informed the CEO and other council officers of our willingness and availability to attend this meeting. It appears that a decision was made not to invite us or any other leaders. We received an email that we will be informed of the outcome of the meeting on Monday night at an already pre-arranged meeting with the CEO.

"Whoever made the decision not to allow us or other leaders to be part of this very important meeting was acting in a very disrespectful manner bearing in mind this is supposed to be A cross party cause of all working together to deal with this situation that is plaguing Thurrock."

Kind regards

Cllr Roy Jones. UKIP Deputy Leader and Ward Councillor for Stanford West and Corringham Town Centre.

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