Cllr Pat Oakley's letter

Last Monday, Bournemouth town centre witnessed a disgraceful level of lawlessness that forced the closure of businesses, terrorised our visitors and residents and sent out the message ‘don’t come to Bournemouth it is out of control, Bournemouth police have lost control’.

Hundreds of local people, holiday makers, families and language students were terrified by the behaviour of a small number of people we call 'Travellers'.

The name 'Travellers' in itself is a misnomer and we should immediately stop referring to these people as travellers.

That title describes an ethnic group of yesteryear, mainly Irish and Roma Gypsies who wandered the highways and byways of our green and pleasant land.

A brightly coloured caravan pulled by a forlorn donkey with smoke gently curling from the stove.

Clip Clopping along, from village to village, repairing the odd saucepan and sharpening the occasional pair of garden shears and scissors. Make no mistake these people are nothing like that!

These are rough, wild, drunken criminals.

They own top of the range mobile homes, pay no rent or taxes.

Of course, Conor Burns is right, he has for years been calling for a change in the law to make it easier to move them on but those changes are a very long time coming and in the mean-time - chaos reigns.

What makes me and so many others really angry is that we don’t need new laws to arrest people who are drunk and disorderly, use foul language, are fighting and helping themselves to booze from the bar.

Those laws already exist. It is illegal to beg in England yet our town centre has many career beggars who operate with impunity.

When I talk to police officers on a one to one, they tell me this sort of behaviour isn’t seen as a priority by senior officers.

You have to wonder what these so called ‘Travellers’ would have to have done for one of them to be arrested?

How much longer do we have to put up with this criminal behaviour while police officers pass it by?

I will prepare for all the reasoned arguments as to ‘why we cant do anything’ and why it is so important for our social services ‘to assess the needs of the encampment’ first, what about the travellers human rights?

What about the needs of our residents and visitors, what about their human rights, to live in a safe society, free from danger, threat or harassment.

Isn’t it about time our Police Commissioner, Martin Underhill, sent out clear instructions to his officers to enforce the Laws we already have?

Cllr Pat Oakley, Cabinet Member for Tourism, Leisure & The Arts.