Thursday, October 24, 2013

Time for a Lewisham Travellers Site

The shocking case of children being snatched by the state from their own parents in Ireland (and the accompanying press coverage) has highlighted the racism faced by Romani Gypsies and travellers. The rush of the tabloids to imply that travellers across Europe are going around stealing pretty blonde children reminded me of the medieval blood libel that the Jews were sacrificing young Christians. Seemingly Roma families aren't allowed to have blonde-haired, blue-eyed children - presumably this is a privilege reserved for pure Aryan families only.

Yesterday's Daily Star - no it wasn't Maddie, it was their own child
But what about locally? In the last week, a  group of travellers have set up camp in the Girton Road car park in Sydenham. Last month travellers on the site of the demolished Catford Greyhound Stadium were served eviction notice, and travellers were also evicted from a site in Crystal Palace. Travellers like these are being driven from pillar to post because of the lack of proper travellers sites.

Suprisingly Lewisham currently has no official sites for travellers - by way of comparison neighbouring Southwark has 38 pitches across four sites and Greenwich has 40 pitches. The last Lewisham site, in Thurston Road, was closed in 2009 to make way for the Lewisham Gateway development. Proposals for a site in Church Grove, Ladywell provoked a predictable backlash. The Council has promised that they will consult on potential sites before the end of 2013 - lets hope that when they do local communities can avoid an over-emotive response.

There are potential sites available for at least temporary use. For instance what about the derelict Besson Street site in New Cross. It's several years since the housing block there was demolished and the once promised health centre/library is plainly never going to happen. So rather than leave the site as a fenced off wasteland why not put it to good use?


Anonymous said...

there's a nice site by the river in Deptford that could accomodate a Convoy of travellers.

Transpontine said...

Yes plenty of room at Convoys Wharf for a travellers site, community garden and a ship building project too!