Enough is enough, show some respect

Green Lane, Whitebirk Industrial estate, Mosley Street, St Wilfrid’s playing fields, Feniscliffe, Lower Eccleshill Road.

Just some of the areas where so-called “travellers” have set up unauthorised camps in recent weeks – leading local residents (and employers) to complain to the Press, the council, and to me – about their anti-social behaviour.

We live in a country which is very tolerant of others’ life styles – including those of travellers.

Over the years I have received no more complaints about the permanent camp at Ewood than I have about any other area of town.

These travellers have their own life style; and that’s fine so long as it does not lead to interference with others.

The same goes for a single Romany family, complete with a classic wooden caravan, and donkey, whom I saw camping on a large area of spare land in the middle of nowhere in the West Country.

But these “travellers” – the ones who’ve been causing trouble all over the borough – are something else. They, like the notorious ones at Dale Farm in Essex, are all too ready to go to law in defence of their “rights”; but deny the right to a quiet life to the law-abiding living nearby, and cry “foul” whenever the legal processes go against them.

Handling this problem is something of a nightmare for government, central and local, irrespective of party. Since the 1980s the law has progressively been tightened.

That has led to some improvement in the speed, and effectiveness of enforcement proceedings, but there’s still a long way to go.

Earlier this year, the Government announced two linked measures. First, £60 million for funding councils to provide more authorised sites – like the one at Ewood.

Second, stronger powers for Councils to tackle the abuse of planning permissions (or the lack of it) that led to the horrendous problems at Dale Farm.

I welcome both.

Once there are enough authorised sites, then I think we are all entitled to say “Enough is enough; and the rest of us have had enough. You want respect; show some more to others.”

Author: Jack Straw

Jack Straw was elected as the MP for Blackburn in 1979 and is currently the Secretary of State for Justice.

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