Kenilworth councillor hits back at commissioner's 'hostile' attitude towards travellers and gypsies

  Posted: 22.11.21 at 12:24 by The Editor

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A Kenilworth councillor has hit back at "hostile" plans by Warwickshire Police to make gypsies and travellers feel unwelcome in the county.

Cllr Richard Dickson said that Warwickshire's Police and Crime Commissioner has missed two vital points about accommodating other communities.

And he has called on Philip Seccombe and Warwickshire Police to stand up for the rights of minority groups and protected races.

Cllr Dickson, who sits on Kenilworth Town Council and Warwick District Council, has responded to PCC Seccombe's promises at last week's police and crime panel to do more about unauthorised traveller encampments.

PCC Seccombe said: "We want to make Warwickshire the most uncomfortable place for Gypsies, Romas and Travellers to come to."

But the Liberal Democrat councillor said this "completely misses two vital points".

He said: "Firstly, these communities are protected against race discrimination because they’re ethnic groups under the Equality Act of 2010. We cannot – nor should not – seek to make our county an uncomfortable place for them to visit.

"Secondly, the National Planning Policy Framework and the Housing Act 2004 requires local authorities to meet the accommodation needs of the population within their area, including the needs of the gypsy and traveller community.

"In some parts of our county, including Warwick district, we have been slow in doing this."

PCC Seccombe did say that police had to work within the framework of the law and manage the expectation of communities where travellers were concerned.

And added that problems would not be solved overnight.

But Cllr Dickson said Warwickshire Police needed to be more sensitive in handling the issue, and remember that travellers have a right to chose their own lifestyle.

"No one pretends this is an easy issue but words need to be chosen very carefully. This is where leadership attention is needed," he added.

"Firstly to stand up for the rights of protected races so that they are respected, whether it’s gypsies and travellers or any other minority group. And secondly to ensure local communities fulfil their legal responsibilities.

"To suggest, with the words above, that we can and should do otherwise creates a hostile environment for gypsies and travellers and is a failure of leadership. And if it starts with gypsies and travellers, who will be next in our society?"

More Kenilworth news stories:

- Weekend closure announced for A46 to start building new bridge
- Kenilworth ladies boutique celebrates tenth anniversary
- Have your say on policing priorities in Kenilworth

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