Friday, February 27, 2009

Travellers caught in the crossfire again

Bournemouth locals and some councillors are up in arms again over a proposed gypsy and travellers site near Bournemouth Hospital.

When people object to a gypsy or traveller transit site as proposed near Bournemouth Hospital, how much does fear motivate their concerns?

Change is always difficult and undoubtedly this kind of development near a nursing home worries its residents.

But where are travellers and gypsies going to go? If you had to live in a caravan, literally travelling around from place to place, how would you feel about the public hostility towards you?

How would you feel about parking on the side of the road, knowing the police will arrive shortly to move you on. But where can you go?

It's easy to be motivated by fear where travellers are concerned. They don't get much positive press. But travellers and gypsies have a culture that is quite unique.

Many speak the ancient language of Cant, a hybrid of English and Gaelic or one of the other traveller languages. Sometimes, the public doesn't look beyond the negative aspects of traveller traditions.

Maybe we should turn the mirror on ourselves. Is the "settled" community populated by martyrs?

Yes, there is crime among the travelling community. Let's not forget, the "settled" community has its share of crime as well. We should debate the concerns among community members.

We should try and see beyond our fear and realise there are real people involved in the cross fire between divided councillors and concerned residents.

Further public meetings are to be held on Tuesday March 3 at the Townsend community centre and on Wednesday March 4 at the Littledown Centre.

These will give people the opportunity to be heard and they should also take the time to listen.

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