Carry on camping... but it’s not funny for Peterborough residents

Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton - peterboroughtoday.co.uk
Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton - peterboroughtoday.co.uk

“Imagine how upsetting it would be, being uprooted every few days’’ – that was a Tweet from police in Surrey to residents unhappy that travellers had moved onto land near their homes and allegedly indulged in anti-social behaviour.

The response from residents was incredulous to say the least. I don’t know why they were surprised.

Up and down the land, including Peterborough, police have shown time and time again they do not want to get involved with any problems that arise with traveller encampments –and that includes allegations of law breaking.

Do you remember the case last year of 84-year-old Peterborough businesswoman Eve Taylor?

Mrs Taylor turned to the police after travellers parked up at her business in Bretton. They then demanded £1,200 to leave, warning Mrs Taylor it would cost her more to evict them via the courts. In desperation, Mrs Taylor called the police who told her the travellers’ words amounted to a proposal not a threat!

Travellers rock up regularly, and have done so again recently, in Peterborough and invariably residents are up in arms.

Peterborough City Cllr John Fox has spent many hours trying to find a solution. No wonder he is exasperated.

He headed up a working party which choose a site at Clay Lane to be an Emergency Stopping Place.

The idea is brilliant in its simplicity – it is an area provided by the city council and funded by the council taxpayer where unauthorised encampments can be moved to.

Unfortunately, nobody seems interested in moving them.

The police can, of course, under Section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 move travellers on. What they can’t do is tell them where to go. And neither can the council.

Another badly drawn up piece of legislation, which gives police an opportunity to wash their hands of a situation that causes untold distress to a lot of people.

The message this sends is that it is okay to “Carry On Camping.’’

Imagine how upsetting that is for residents adversely affected by unlawful camps?

Getting shirty

I know it’s the silly season but a story about a Cambridge man who claims he was denied ice cream and thrown out of a Tesco store for being overweight will take some beating.

It turns out Matthew Brackley was not wearing a shirt which may or may not have been why he was asked to leave the shop. An affronted Matthew raged: “It’s disgraceful. It was about 33C and I had my t-shirt off. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s not a crime.’’

He might be right that shopping topless is not a crime, but it should be. Police could then put offenders under a vest!

A special scrote

It takes a special sort of scrote to steal from a charity so the news that the Sue Ryder shop in Eye has been raided three times in a few days is hugely disappointing. If the culprits are ever caught, they shouldn’t bother with fines or even prison terms.

The villains should be made to do “voluntary’’ work at Thorpe Hall. It might not change their wicked ways, but it would be worth a try.

Brexit banter

There was an interesting interview with former Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson in the PT last week. Stewart is, of course, a staunch Leave supporter and, until his boss David Davis quit as Brexit minister, he was at the heart of the negotiations with the EU.

I liked his version of the man on the Clapham omnibus – the family in Dogsthorpe, who hadn’t voted for 20 years but who put their X in Brexit.

Meanwhile, Stewart revealed he will be working with business people to try to ‘demystify Brexit’ as many were “confused or terrified about what it means’’. Considering entrepreneurs are probably among the sharpest tools in the people box, that’s, er, a little confusing and terrifying.

I remain a Remainer and I remain entitled to my opinion whatever the result of the referedum. There should never have been one in the first place. That said, I’m all for another referendum. It could be the first time when two wrongs make a right.

I did chuckle when an analyst posted a blog on the conservativehome website headlined: “Those pressing for a second referendum have no idea of the damage it could do.’’

Just like those who pressed for the first referendum then.

High profile

I lso can’t agree with Mr Jackson’s verdict on his successor, Labour’s Fiona Onasanya. Mr Jackson said: “I think the current Member Of Parliament has not really raised the profile of the city very much.’’

Check out the news this week, Stewart!

Coffee cops

Criminals don’t deserve any luck and one pair got what was coming to them as revealed in a Tweet from Northants police armed response team.

“At 0500hrs this morning two armed men went into Starbucks. They threatened staff with weapons and stole cash..

They didn’t account for Armed Officers sat in the Drive-Thru ordering a coffee at the same time.’’

There’s no truth in the rumour that the armed officers shouted at the raiders: “Doughnut do that.’’