Thursday, 25 August 2016

My view on the recent travellers debate.

There has been a lot of discussion recently about various groups of travellers in Plymouth and I have to admit to feeling a little disgusted when some people brand the whole travelling community with truly awful comments.

Travellers kicked out of Trefusis Park.
Travellers hit back at deplorable comments made by Gary Streeter.
Plymouth MP compares travellers to Genghis Khan.

I think that any group of people will have good and bad amongst them and I would like to share my recent experiences with 2 groups of travellers to hopefully promote healthy discussion rather than ignorant, hate speech.

In June 2016 a group of travellers camped on Trefusis Park next to Tulgey Woods. I have to admit that my intial reaction was one of worry but that was soon to be dispelled. I visited the camp the morning after it was set up and approached a couple of the residents to ask them a few questions to hopefully allay any fears I had. A few women came out from their caravans to chat to me about their intended stay. The women were very polite and their caravans were well maintained, there was no rubbish to be seen and the ladies were keen to seek water for the camp. It was a very hot day so I gave the ladies a crate of bottled water so they could give the kids a drink whilst they waited to find a more longstanding solution.

The first camp left after just three days and apart from one small garden waste deposit in the Community Orchard the site was left immaculate. The council had provided toilets and bins and the camp dwellers had used those resources considerately. 

The 2nd camp arrived in August 2016 bringing a different flavour to the discussion. Within hours of arrival there was rubbish thrown in the stream and across the park including a caravan TV thrown into the water. Music was being played loudly, echoing across the valley, and the barking of the many dogs on site was distressing for both neighbours and dog walkers.

Maybe I am wrong but it felt like the first group made every effort to work alongside the local community and the 2nd group did completely the opposite. Rubbish left by travellers on 16th August pictured below right.

Anyway I want to throw in a little diversion to encourage further debate. Many of the local residents/dogwalkers are the same people who also fly-tip and litter. Whether there are travellers in the park or not sadly there is always rubbish brought by humans. At the back of the Blandford Road houses there are dumped flatscreen TV's, mattresses and garden waste.  These items are not left by travellers so let's not be too quick to judge.

My next argument is aimed at those that claim Travellers don't pay taxes; I love the travellers concept of living off the land, working with the seasons and being free to roam rather than fixed to one place. However Mobile homes need fuel and that means travellers have to buy petrol to move around hence paying tax into the system. I would love to see more travellers using traditional methods but sadly it is hard to move around the country by natural methods with copious amounts of road and rail networks getting in the way of natural travel.

Whatever your views on travellers I would like to finish on one point, dumping your waste on someone elses property is not nice whoever you are. Even garden waste could contain chemicals or knotweed that you simply shouldn't dump.

Let the debate continue but let's try to educate each other rather then shaming each other :) xx