Matlock councillors press for action on station Travellers camp as court date looms
Matlock’s district councillors have called on the authority to speed up its efforts to address the gathering of Travellers at the station carp park as the long-running issue spilled on to the pages of a national newspaper over the weekend.
Last week the Mercury reported that the council was seeking to evict one unauthorised Traveller, but the numbers have since grown and the six Liberal Democrats who represent the town met with council officers to discuss “the ever-worsening situation.”
Councillor Martin Burfoot said: “We pressed officers to procure court orders as soon as practicable to evict the transient caravan owners, to whom the council has no legal duty of care, unless they can prove to be homeless.
“The next step will be to restrict the protected family to the infrequently used west end of the car park, pending the identification of a temporary tolerated site.”
He added: “We expect the council to install a height barrier across the car park entrance, to prevent a situation like this happening again.”
The councillors lay the blame with Conservatives at district at county level, and say the situation is provoking many complaints from residents and business owners and deterring visitors.
A spokesman for Derbyshire Dales council said: “A court date has been set for Monday, May 24, and we hope that they will issue us with an order enabling us to act accordingly. Since the unauthorised Travellers arrived officers have been visiting three times weekly and will continue to do so until they leave.”
Adding fuel to the fire, the town’s former MP Matthew Parris published an article in The Times saying the situation demanded a blanket ban on Travellers, arguing: “There is simply no place for the true nomad in modern Britain.”
Effectively advocating the denial of human rights for a historically persecuted ethnic minority, his comments sparked furious criticism.
A spokesman for campaign group Friends, Families and Travellers said: “It is a sad state of affairs for British journalism when the racist ramblings of a man with so little knowledge of nomadism is printed as a valid opinion in a national paper. This does untold damage to Gypsy and Traveller people, but also to the tolerant and inclusive society we all want to live in.”