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(76 Posts)
vampirequeen Tue 07-Apr-15 08:24:13

Forgive me if I sound racist or intolerant but I have a problem with travellers who think they can set up camp anywhere they choose then play the race card when people complain.

I don't have a problem with travellers and I'm not intending to generalise but there are groups who think they can live outside the rules of society.

In the last year I know of groups who have camped on two children's play areas in Hull plus one group who camped on a school playing field at Clayton in Bradford and another who camped on the land around a Centotaph in a nearby village (they reckoned that they didn't know what it was).

This weekend a group arrived in Skegness and, because the council had put in height barriers to stop them using the beach front car parks like they did last year, they camped in the coach park.

I'm sorry that they feel hard done by but then so do people who own the land they choose to camp on. The school in Clayton had to pay for the land to be cleared after they'd been evicted. It has to be done by specialists due to the types of waste matter that are dumped. Then they had to pay for the entrances to the field to be blocked.

I have a caravan. If I pulled up and camped on land just because it was where I fancied stopping I would, quite rightly, be turfed off by the land owner or the police.

I have no problem with their lifestyle. In fact DH and I have been thinking for a long time about living in our caravan and moving around but we would use campsites.

The travellers complain that there aren't enough places for them to stop but tbh I have little sympathy for that argument. They choose that lifestyle and have to deal with the problems that arise from their choices just as we deal with problems that arise from our choices.

Marmight Tue 07-Apr-15 08:47:19

Absolutely agree with you. We have laws and rules which we should all abide by. Can't understand this 2 tier mentality - one rule for us and another for the rest..... while 'the rest' pick up the pieces - and the bill!

ginny Tue 07-Apr-15 09:13:08

I agree with you too vampirequeen They are free to choose their way of life but why shouldn't they finance it themselves. If they want places to stay then they should pay for them and keep them clean and tidy.

Gagagran Tue 07-Apr-15 09:21:13

There is a difference between "travellers" and Romanies, who have a long history of itinerant working and moving round the country with the seasons. You don't often see "travellers" in winter because many of them have permanent houses in Ireland and return there for family gatherings, weddings etc. There was a TV programme about it not long ago.

I think what most people object to about their way of life is the arrogance which they display by parking up wherever they choose and the terrible mess they leave behind when they are moved on.

NfkDumpling Tue 07-Apr-15 09:24:45

I used to live near a permanent travellers site. The problem was they didn't. Travel that is. There were brick built bathrooms on each pitch - now built to include kitchens - and once a family had a pitch, they stayed. Permanently. Just going away in their touring van occassionally just as we do.This meant others would pitch up outside and around the area in the hope that someone would eventually move on or move into a house.

Once the council had put a manager on site full time - who was very strict and didn't allow 'Irish' tinkers (her expression - and she was Irish) who had previously stripped the site and burned nasty stuff and cost us a fortune to clear up - all was well and they integrated fine.

So now the complaint is lack of sites.

NfkDumpling Tue 07-Apr-15 09:26:03

I should add they did pay rent for their pitch. Don't know about council tax though!

pompa Tue 07-Apr-15 09:31:58

We have a couple Romany residential sites around our village. The families have lived here for over 60 years. Their sites are kept extremely clean and tidy, and could be described as POSH. They cause no problems whatsoever. Many of the children have built some fantastic houses in nearby villages. One family runs a large and reputable architectural salvage business.

Travelers are, IMO, different, they do not respect their environment and cause problems for local residents.

TerriBull Tue 07-Apr-15 10:09:57

I think the public's perception of travellers is clouded by the fact that some of them leave a trail of debris behind when they move on, and some, have on occasions intimidated local residents.

Mishap Tue 07-Apr-15 10:40:07

This is a hard issue for me as I worked with Travellers for many years. I was the picture editor and project manager for their national magazine The Travellers' Times.

Just to be clear, Traveller is now the accepted term for Gypsies (Irish, English, Scottish, Welsh) and also for what were once called New Age Travellers).

Here is what I found - amongst the Traveller community there were good and bad (just like the rest of us); there were people who I was proud to call friends, and those who I would go out of my way to avoid (just like the rest of us); there were honest people and dishonest people (just like the rest of us); there were those who tried to avoid taxes and those who paid them (just like the rest of us).

There were things about their culture that I hated: the role of women (although that is changing), the love of boxing.

There were things that I admired, particularly their sense of family and staunch support of each other, and their love of music.

In order to understand the current impasse that exists, with Travellers at loggerheads with the rest of the community, it is necessary to understand the history. At one time Travellers were an important part of the local rural communities and travelled from farm to farm doing seasonal work- fruit picking, hop, picking, hedging etc. They were a welcome and accepted part of the rural scene, and farmers allowed them to park in their fields whilst they were working. In the 1990s a new piece of legislation was passed that outlawed this, only allowing one or two caravans on a farm - this ran totally counter to their culture as they travel in large family groups. The obligation on local councils to provide Traveller sites was also removed.

From then on, the stage was set for conflict, and this is what we have got.

They had two choices: ditch the culture and way of life into which they were born and of which they are proud; or get by as best they may, finding places to stay wherever they can.

I should also add that some Travellers are indeed "settled" on sites, but they are still Travellers - they travel during the summer looking for work; and also there is a great deal more to being a Traveller and to their culture than just moving around.

I have met Travellers who were millionaires, having set up Europe-wide businesses (and no I did not ask them if they paid taxes - any more than I would someone from the settled community); I have met Travellers living on the breadline.

It is very important to recognise that they are a diverse community and that, whilst we might look upon them as one group, there are many different groups within this.

I enjoyed working alongside them - they were feisty and fun - challenging indeed, but with something to teach us about family loyalty. They are in many ways very different from us settled people, but the same under the skin.

Take a look at:

whitewave Tue 07-Apr-15 10:49:06

We seem to get all the most untidy here then. There is always an unbelievable amount of rubbish of all sorts left and the land owners usually have to have a large bonfire and health hazard clean up , or of course it is the council. Not sure how changing the law has made them so untidy though.

Mishap Tue 07-Apr-15 10:54:15

I am no apologist for that sort of mess, and neither are many Travellers - they get embarrassed and angry about it too.

One of the problems is that Travellers are visible (in the same way as black people) and understandably we tend to lump them all together as one group, when they are as diverse as we are.

Eloethan Tue 07-Apr-15 13:21:33

Mishap is perhaps the most knowledgeable amongst us with regard to the subject of travellers. Her comments that she has found travellers to be much like the non-travelling population - some are anti-social and troublesome but others just want to get on with their lives without adversely affecting anyone or being adversely treated themselves.

We have a very small site quite near to us but the residents seem to live there permanently and it is very clean and tidy. I can understand people being upset if they are near an encampment that is filthy and covered with rubbish. Unfortunately some people within the mainstream community can be equally anti-social - dropping litter everywhere and dumping mattresses and broken household equipment. It is not acceptable in either community and I wish it could be dealt with more effectively but I'm not quite sure what's the best way to tackle this sort of behaviour.

I believe there is a shortage of sites for travellers but there can be no justification whatsoever for setting up camp on school playing fields and in parks.

Tegan Tue 07-Apr-15 14:08:29

What is important to know about travellers is that a lot of them cannot live in houses even if they were offered one; they are like caged birds and they find the constraints of bricks and mortar oppressive. Having said that, what I don't understand about them is the mess and squalor they leave behind. One of my dearest friends years ago was from a traveller family; I was proud to call them my friends and if I had a problem with the family pony they were the first people I called, as they knew more about horses than most people have forgot. And, of course,coming from Birmingham the Black Patch gypsies are part of our history, But the crime rate round here soars when travellers are in the area.

merlotgran Tue 07-Apr-15 15:32:55

We used to own a pub and restaurant with an adjoining campsite in a pretty rural hamlet. Travellers were a constant worry. They would move on to campsites without permission and we had to be constantly on our guard. If they took a shine to a pub you might just as well pay in to a protection racket to get rid of them because you would soon lose all your trade. A very pretty riverside pub was burned to the ground one New Year's Eve after a fight broke out.

They were intimidating and arrogant and it was a brave landlord who refused to serve them if they wanted to stay all afternoon.

There was a 'bush telegraph' operating and many a time we closed early thanks to a warning from the pub up the road that they were heading our way.

Seven years and no trouble....we counted ourselves very lucky indeed.

Mishap Tue 07-Apr-15 15:42:47

These are undefendable and unacceptable behaviours to us and to many of the travelling communities.

I am not blind to the difficulties, but have also had the opportunity to see the good things too, and to know how painful it is to many Travellers that members of their community bring them into disrepute in this way.

I have met both - the decent ones and the problem ones - I am just saying that we should remember that there are both.

Coolgran65 Tue 07-Apr-15 16:20:25

Where I live there are several settled travelling families.
Their homes are top range and beautifully kept.
Stables and horses at the rear.
BMW 4 wheel drive vehicles etc.
Clearly money is not a problem.
Very charming......kind lady.

Many of them were clients of the firm where I worked.
Let's have a hypothetical Fred.
Fred and family arrived without appointment and would 'wait'. Inevitably Fred was fitted in as it was intimidating to other clients. Fred never took a seat. He did however plug in the charger for his phone.
Fred disappeared ...he had located the staff kitchen and was making coffee.

On one occasion his adult son was a long time in the toilet - came out with his hair washed and the hand towel on his shoulders.

On another occasion two of the settled travelling family members did not believe that our boss was out of the office and tried to make their way to search the (small) building. The receptionist told them to stay in reception. Male staff member appeared in reception to find out what's the fuss. He was set upon by one of them...middle aged receptionist tried to help male staff member using a ruler to beat off the assailant. The other traveller held receptionist back's about honour !!
Secretary ringing 999.
What a day that was.

13 year old son who did not go to school, regularly came into the office on his own to ask to use the bathroom.
Unfortunately the toilet was always out of order!!

Of course, no bills were ever paid.
Another time...kind sir !!!

Coolgran65 Tue 07-Apr-15 16:30:01

Yes, I agree that all communities must have their good and not so good.

I have found manners and charm aplenty when a settled traveller has been looking for something to their advantage
...experience has always shown there to be a hidden agenda.
Sorry to have such a negative point of view, I have found in general their arrogance to be intimidating and veiled.

Mishap... I am glad you got to see another side to the travellers and it was no doubt really interesting.

Jane10 Tue 07-Apr-15 17:44:22

How do they get their money? Just asking.

merlotgran Tue 07-Apr-15 17:52:25

Our chef arrived one evening shouting for us to ring the police. We thought there had been an accident on the very busy main road but when we looked out the window, all our garden furniture was being loaded on to a trailer. There was nothing we could do to stop them. The police gave us a crime number because we were insured but they did nothing else.

DD's car was broken into on the night of her engagement party. They'd driven down from Scotland where her future DH was working and all their stuff was still in the boot. They lost all their luggage.

They're not averse to murdering eachother either. hmm

rosesarered Tue 07-Apr-15 18:04:33

In our neck of the woods we are just seeing prosecutions of people from a travellers camp for holding people( vulnerable adults) and using them as slave labour. It happens a lot.My daughter's firm of offices, found that travellers nearby had somehow connected themselves up to the electric supply!Lots of cars owned by staff were constantly either broken into or stolen.I was cursed by a gypsy in Oxford for not buying lucky heather ( as if I care!) They are almost all Irish and are a blot on the landscape.

Mishap Tue 07-Apr-15 18:06:56

Oh heavens Jane10 - they earn it, just like you and I!

The editor of Travellers' Times has a degree from Oxford and is one of the most charming people you could hope to meet. Oh - and he is a Traveller.

The majority of Travellers are staunch Christians and have high moral standards. The wrong'uns are the visible minority, as is always the case. Do we still believe that all black youths are thugs, just because some are and they are more visible as a minority? I think we have moved on from there.

You have no idea how decent Travellers despair over their less honest brethren. It drives them nuts.

petra Tue 07-Apr-15 18:08:34

This is why most car parks have a hight restriction. Not just in this country, but all over Europe. Big problem for us when we still had our Motohome.

Ana Tue 07-Apr-15 18:25:44

But how do they earn it, Mishap? The vast majority of them don't work in shops, offices or in the public sector so it would seem likely to be temporary work and not likely to be declared to the taxman. Most of the women aren't allowed to work by their menfolk, I believe.

annodomini Tue 07-Apr-15 18:39:36

Back in the 70s it was found that travellers living in the official camp along the road from us had rigged the phone box so that they could make calls free anywhere in the world.

Grannyknot Tue 07-Apr-15 18:59:44

mishap (and not having a go at you, but) I can't help chuckling when I see something like "XXX is now the accepted term" - who decides? grin

Your long post is very interesting.