Council disregard objections of 3,000 residents to traveller (gypsies) site as ‘they are racist.’
When residents were asked to provide feedback on council plans tobuild traveller camps on their doorstep they dutifully responded.
Morethan 3,000 homeowners filled in forms outlining their views, manyraising concerns over a possible increase in noise, traffic, rubbishand a detrimental effect on property prices.
However, suchobjections were not appreciated by Mid-Bedfordshire District Council,which partially or fully rejected nearly nine in ten of the replies forincluding comments ‘of a racist nature’.
Weeks after asking for residents’ views earlier this year, thecouncil posted an article on its website entitled ‘Racist Comments NotWelcome’.
It claimed the council’s ‘duty of communityleadership’ meant it had to crack down on the use of racialstereotypes, and revealed that while 400 responses would be considered,3,100 were in some way racist and would be rejected.
Thecouncil even sent letters to objectors telling them their views hadbeen deemed offensive and would not be taken account of.
Retiredcompany secretary Lucy Clarke from Stotfold – one of the six smalltowns and villages mooted as sites for the 25 traveller families – wasastounded to receive her letter.
MrsClarke, a grandmother of three, said: ‘As far as I am aware I objectedto the camp for entirely reasonable grounds. And yet I then get thisletter from the council.
‘They even accused me of incitement to racial hatred. It’s ridiculous – like putting me on a par with Abu Hamza.’
She added: ‘I am not racist, but I am concerned about what one of these camps could do to our town.’
Even the local town council could not avoid falling foul of the censors.
Brian Collier, chairman of Stotfold council said: ‘We wrote a detailed response in which we summarised locals’ concerns.
‘There is another gipsy site not far from here that has a well-known crime problem.
‘As part of our response we echoed people’s worries that the same may happen here.
‘Wewere totally shocked when we then received a letter from the districtcouncil saying that was racist. There are lots of people here who havehad the same treatment.’