AN OUTSPOKEN Worcester councillor has slammed city council chiefs’ decision to let travellers occupy Laugherne Brook ‘for as long as they wanted to be there, with no plans to move them on’.
Coun Alan Amos, city and county councillor for Bedwardine, branded the decision absolutely disgraceful and even claimed council bosses accepted travellers were ‘above the law’.
His verbal attack on council officials also led the controversial councillor to claim the situation showed why voters had no trust or confidence in local authorities.
“Immediately these foreign gypsies arrived, the Council sent a number of welfare officers to offer them welfare and health assistance when, instead, they should have sent enforcement officers to move them on straightaway,” he said.
“At least two of the gypsies had already accessed the NHS for treatment – completely free of course – on a priority basis whilst most Worcester residents have to wait weeks to get a GP appointment.
“After they had chosen to go, the council originally told me incorrectly that they had left the area tidy only for me to later find out that the gypsies had, in fact, left human faeces and other filth all around.
“They had no running water so I shudder to think of the appalling hygiene they were camping in.
“Clearly, the Council accepts that gypsies are above the law. They trespass on a well-used and nice piece of open recreation land which prevents ordinary residents from being able to use it and, like every other gypsy invasion, create filth which taxpayers have to pay to clear up.
“Yet if you are a law-abiding tax payer and overstay in a council car park for just a couple of minutes, you’ll get a huge fine for which the council will pursue you through the Courts to get every penny.”
The group of travellers moved on from Laugherne Brook Local Nature Reserve on Monday after being served a notice by Worcester City Council on July 29.
In response, a Worcester City Council spokesman said: “There is a joint protocol for the whole of Worcestershire that sets out how councils respond if travellers set up unauthorised encampments on public land. The protocol was drawn up in line with the Human Rights Act 1998, the Housing Act 2004, Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000, the Equality Act 2010 and other relevant legislation.
“Under this protocol, the travellers’ presence will be tolerated for up to 21 days, unless there is evidence that their presence is having an unreasonable effect on neighbours and the community, of environmental damage, of criminality or of their presence affecting the council’s normal operations – for example, if they occupied a car park.
“We carry out a welfare check on the travellers as part of the protocol. In this case (Laugherne Brook), there was a welfare issue to be considered.”