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Bid to allay fears over new site for travellers in Rayleigh
4:30pm Monday 7th October 2013 in News
COUNTY bosses have moved to allay fears over plans for a new travellers’ site in south Essex.
However, bosses used an example of a travellers’ site in Colchester in an attempt to quell their fears.
Attending the meeting, Steve Andrews, the Essex countywide traveller unit manager from the county council, said residents in Colchester had similar fears before a site opened in the town in April last year.
Of the site on Severalls Lane, Mr Andrews said: “People didn’t want it beforehand. Businesses were threatening to close and people leave the town. But since it opened, I’ve had no complaints and there’s been no increase in crime.
“But now there are 12 families in 12 pitches who are part of the community. “ When asked how such a site could be policed, Mr Alston admitted big numbers of travellers could be difficult to police but it wouldn’t put them above the law.
He added: “Essex has lived with travellers forever. There’s a view that travellers don’t get policed but that isn’t true.”
The site in Colchester is one of 12 council ran sites in Essex, with Rayleigh potentially becoming the next.
Mr Andrews said all sites were managed by teams of site managers.
Allaying fears how travellers would mix into the community, Mr Andrews said: “Families move in and they integrate with the community. They sign up with the local GPs and the kids go to the school. They become members of their community.
“This is about giving people homes and a place in the community. That’s no different to people finding a house.”
However, Rayleigh Action Group leader Linda Kendall, who is opposing development in the district, said Mr Andrews’s words didn’t alleviate fears.
She said: “The travellers on the Severalls Lane site are all Romany gipsies with a long association with Colchester who were on a council waiting list to enter a site after the former displacement. It is not a mixed site.
“The site is located near a former council-run traveller site that existed up until 2001 when it was closed by Colchester Council for a housing development.
“Thus the local businesses and residents had a traveller site in the district prior to their arrival so really had no reason to object.”