Traveller Update: Sainsburys (Cheam) Locks its gate!

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A gate linking Sainsburys car-park to the children’s playground in Fairfield Park has been firmly shut and pad-locked. This has effectively ‘blocked’ the direct route between the Travellers (who have settled in the park) and easy access to Sainsburys. It was through this gate that Traveller children were entering Sainsburys and reportedly causing all kinds of problems with intimidation and threatened violence, as well as numerous incidents of anti-social behaviour. I visited the area today and took a number of photographs for this blog. The Travellers state that they are reacting to the discriminatory manner in which they are treated by the ‘settled’ community, and the ‘settled’ community respond by saying they are being attacked by feral gangs of Traveller children and teenagers. The point is that there is truth in both viewpoints, but I am concerned with the historical abuse, alienation and marginalisation the Traveller community has suffered over the decades (whether referred to as Gypsies, Pikies, and Romany, etc). As Traveller children are excluded from State education, they exist outside of civil society and do not know how to live within it. They are taught from birth that they are not part of established society, and so act in antagonism to it – blaming everyone they encounter for their plight. In return, the aggressive defensiveness exhibited by the Travellers is taken by the settled community as confirming all the old prejudices aimed at nomadic communities in the West. At present there is a status quo of confirmed prejudices in operation from which neither side will move. Although the Travellers are not being prevented from leaving the park they have occupied, nevertheless, I do not like the idea that ordinary men, women and children in the Traveller community are being deprived of food and water, albeit not in a direct manner. By Sainsburys ‘locking’ the gate to its private car-park, it is not breaking the law, but it is preventing direct access to supplies. Although I have not checked myself, I have been told that all the park exists have been locked except the main exit through which the Travellers gained access. This is to allow the Travellers to leave once circumstances become too difficult for them to stay. Travellers certainly like money just as much as anyone else, and somehow manage to survive without direct access to the British Welfare State, the NHS and regular employment. However, although I fully acknowledge the unfortunate state of affairs that exists between both communities, the Travellers are human-beings and subject to Human Rights legislation. These Travellers must not be deprived of food and water, particularly in the light of the extreme hot weather we have been experiencing recently (with temperatures of 34 degrees celsius). The following photographs are my own, and provided here for educational purposes, as we must learn about one another’s culture.

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