Council boss has a right to be angry at the police

LAWRENCE MURPHY: A worthy alternative to roasties?

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Fareham Borough Council leader branded it ‘naive’. He also used the word ‘ridiculous’.

Strong stuff.

But many people would agree with his telling of the debacle surrounding how a group of travellers was allowed to access a playing fields site in Fareham at the weekend.

Quite rightly, Cllr Woodward is angry.

Yes the police had a public duty to prevent the nearby roads from being blocked by a convoy of traveller caravans.

But did the police officers on the ground really believe the group would drive in, turn around and go on their merry way out of the borough?

If so, then Cllr Woodward’s description of the police being ‘naive’ is accurate.

The Conservative leader says his council staff were ‘ordered’ by the police to lower the height barrier at Cams Alders – the very thing put in to stop large vehicles from entering the site – to allow the travellers on so they could turn around.

Hampshire Constabulary insists it wasn’t an order, it was simply a ‘request’.

Many would argue that is semantics.

The truth is that if a police officer asks you to do something, you usually oblige.

No wonder then the Fareham council leader is calling for an urgent investigation into the matter.

This incident will end up costing the borough council – indeed all of its taxpayers – an awful lot of money through the courts and bailiffs.

While Fareham Borough Council goes to the courts to evict the travellers, Gosport’s authority is having to put in large boulders around its green sites in case travellers come back.

Cllr Woodward wants to make trespass illegal, which would mean travellers could be arrested if they set up home on public land.

In fact he’s even made a direct approach to the Prime Minister about the issue.

Critics say that would be a step too far, but what we do know is that the current situation can’t go on.