The Post Bag: Letters To Squall
A Place to Park
Squall 6, Spring 1994, pg. 41.
I was horrified to hear the news that so called 'New age travellers' not only have to leave their site at Steamer Quay in Totnes, but worse still have been denied gypsy status, a ruling which has undertones of racism.
All these people want is a place to park their vans and live their lives without constant harassment, their only 'crime' is that they look a little different and have chosen a different lifestyle. I feel ashamed to live in a country that allows the British National Party, whose views, attitudes and incitement to cruelty and violence are well documented, and then denies any rights to these inoffensive people (travellers).
Where does the Government, with its present attitude of persecution, imagine they will go? Are we to have more "cardboard cities" in our towns? It is obvious that there is no likelihood of these people, of whom there are a great number scattered around the country, being rehoused.
If they all applied for their right to council housing as homeless people, councils throughout the land would be faced with even more insurmountable problems in the housing sector. There is just not the accommodation available.
When even sympathetic landlords are refused permission to let them stay on their land, where are they expected to go?
How far down the road of mindless discrimination are we too go in this country before we realise that it is present government policies that have driven the homeless onto the roads, where they have discovered a lifestyle they like and wish to preserve. They need and deserve help, not persecution.
I wonder how many people who enjoyed Totnes carnival this year realise that many of the travellers worked very hard for very long hours, lending their skills and creativity, to make the event so colourful and successful?
I would like to point out that I am a 46 year old mother of four, with a 20 year marriage plus two grandchildren and I live in a council flat. I have never been a traveller, nor have I felt moved to write to anyone before, but seeing those young people work so hard for Totnes and then get thrown out has sickened me.