How the News responded to Gypsy Traveller seminar and other issues

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Newspaper Reporter John Watkins, Surrey Advertiser Guildford Edition, attended Effingham Residents Association’s Gypsy Traveller Seminar last Wednesday 17/2/16.  In a report on the event James highlighted some of the issues faced by these minority groups.

Gypsy Travller Seminar 17:2:16

During the seminar one resident asked how gypsies handled prejudice like “blanket” bans by local pubs and minicab companies that refused to pick-up from their road because they were gypsies. One of the presenters John Hockley QPM cited the now famous Wetherspoon case.  The BBC News article of 18/5/15 is reproduced below in full.

Travellers win Wetherspoon pub ban discrimination case

The Coronet, on Holloway RoadImage caption The owners of The Coronet had denied allegations of racial discrimination

Some £24,000 in damages has been awarded to a group attending an Irish Travellers conference after they were discriminated against by the owners of a north London pub.

The Traveller Movement said the group was denied entry at The Coronet on Holloway Road in November 2011.

At the Central London County Court, the judge ruled there had been direct discrimination.

Pub owner Wetherspoon had denied allegations of racial discrimination.

Eight of the claimants were successful and were awarded £3,000 each by the judge.

In the judgement, Judge Hand QC said the thinking of the then manager of the pub was “suffused with the stereotypical assumption that Irish Travellers and English Gypsies cause disorder wherever they go”.

The judge added: “In my judgment this is racial stereotyping of those with that ethnic origin.

“It can be reduced to this crude proposition: whenever Irish Travellers and English Gypsies go to public houses, violent disorder is inevitable because that is how they behave”.

‘Acceptable racism’

Martin Howe, a solicitor who acted for the travellers, said: “This judgment will shake to the core all those who engage in racist conduct towards Irish Travellers and Romany Gypsies.

“The last bastion of ‘acceptable racism’ has come crashing down.”

The Traveller Movement, which was then known as the Irish Traveller Movement in Britain, had argued that a group of 15 attending its annual conference was discriminated against.

The group, including travellers, a police inspector, a barrister and a priest, was denied entry to the pub – which was next door to the event.

The pub manager refused entry to groups of delegates, saying he was concerned there might be trouble because the conference was focusing on evictions from the Dale Farm traveller site in Essex.

Tim Martin, chairman of Wetherspoon, said: “Wetherspoon apologises to the eight individuals who were denied entry and for any upset and distress this caused to them.

“In the light of the judgment, although we have always been fully committed to operating our premises in a non-discriminatory way, we will undertake a full review of our relevant policies, procedures and training.”

And another article, albeit from November 2009, tells what happened after a local funeral.  Of note is that the person interviewed in this article below is the same Ann Wilson who presented our seminar to Her Majesty’s Vice Lord-Lieutenant, Mr. Bill Biddell, local residents, teachers and council officials.  (Ann was awarded an MBE by the Queen in 2014 for services to the community.)

 

Travellers Times

No room at the inns

Nearly 400 mourners attended the funeral for Mr Matthews, a Romany Gipsy who had lived in nearby Effingham for 45 years. One of those who attended was his great-niece Ann Wilson (pictured above) who works as a Gypsy and Traveller Community Development Worker for Surrey Community Action.

But she said the occasion was tainted by the fact that many of the pubs in Bookham, Fetcham and Leatherhead decided to close after hearing about the funeral.

She said: “There may have been one or two that would go into a pub, but because of driving issues, no one was going to drink.

“I don’t understand because a wake was ready anyway, it was at the Church Hall in Leatherhead, and people would have gone straight there and not anywhere else.

“There was somewhere for people to go.”

She added: “It put an atmosphere around the funeral that we didn’t need.”

Mr Matthews’ daughter Rose Brazil, 66, of Chester Road, Effingham, said: “It wasn’t nice, was it? We have never been in any trouble before or anything like that.”

Many landlords said they decided to close the pubs saying they acted on advice given to them by Surrey Police.

Keith Huddlestone, the manager of The Running Horse, in Bridge Street, Leatherhead, claims he had a warning from police about the funeral.

He said: “We were warned that there was a travellers’ funeral going on.

“Since the wake finished at about 5.30pm, we closed until 7.30pm just in case it did come into town.

“We opened again at 7.30pm. We were the only pub open.”

The holding manager of The Bell in Fetcham, who did not wish to be named, said: “We closed at 2pm and didn’t open all evening.

“We were advised to stay shut by the police and our area manager.

“It was because of the travellers’ funeral. They said there could be a number of travellers looking for somewhere to drink.

“We were told all the pubs in Bookham would shut through the afternoon to the evening.”

But Surrey Police has denied it advised pubs to shut.

Mole Valley Neighbourhood Inspector John Tadman said: “More than 200 mourners were expected to attend the service, which is why officers approached local pubs in Bookham in a bid to secure their car parking facilities for the large procession, and to ease congestion around Bookham village.

“We also felt it was responsible to notify local licensees they may have several hundred customers using their premises at once.

“Local pubs in Bookham, and Leatherhead, where the wake was taking place, decided of their own volition to close.”

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