A THURROCK councillor has called for urgent action by police and stringent enforcement by the borough council after reporting that local children are being attacked by members of the traveller community currently encamped in the borough.
Chadwell St Mary Cllr Gerard Rice has contacted the council’s CEO Lyn Carpenter, other senior officials, Essex police and Essex County Council’s Traveller Unit asking why the current encampment on the car park of the Civic Hall and Leisure Centre at Blackshots has been allowed to stay there so long.
The travellers moved onto the Blackshots site last weekend, initially camping on the adjacent King George’s playing fields then, as the weather deteriorated, they moved onto the car park.
Previously, the group had been camped for several days on an unnamed road off the A1013 (Stanford Road) that gives access to the nearby Gammon Field Gypsy and traveler site. They left it litter-strewn before moving to to Blackshots.
Cllr Rice says young travellers, who are part of the encampment, have been ‘beating up’ local children.
In an e-mail calling for action, Cllr Rice says: “With regards to travellers in the Impulse Leisure car park, several residents from Chadwell and Little Thurrock have witnessed young travellers beating up local children in the last few days
“My question is: where are the Police? And Thurrock Council need to take an injunction out against these families to remove them from Thurrock like Harlow and Havering.”
Thurrock Council stated last week they had received a report of the encampment on Monday, 26 March and a direction to leave was handed to the travellers two days later.
The council said if the order was not obeyed they will make a court application to have the travellers forcibly moved from the site, but five days later the travellers are still there – prompting Cllr Rice’s call for urgent action.
In February Thurrock Council leader Rob Gledhill slammed Essex Police for their lack of action over traveller encampments in Thurrock and promised tougher stance by the council.
He said: “The lack of direction and action by the senior police management has yet again let Thurrock residents down. It is not acceptable that Essex Police continue to pay lip service to this very serious issue.”
He went on to “send the message to those who think Thurrock is a soft touch for this type of criminality, that we will use all and any type of action to stop our land being used illegally.”