IT IS with regret that I find myself once again writing to protest at the tone of your coverage on the subject of travellers.

Why provide a large amount of space for a particular traveller to explain her position (August 3) but negate this with a stream of vitriol and counter accusation unless perhaps your aim is to incite and sustain growing tension between settled and gipsy communities in Swindon?

Perhaps you are unaware that as consumers gipsies also pay taxes, which eventually contribute to the European Community budget, under which institution their human rights are protected by law.

Your statement that travellers themselves generate near hatred (perhaps you'd like to explain how being beaten, stabbed, spat upon, ostracised and vilified regularly in the local press constitutes near as opposed to real?) is but a simple and transparent technique employed by those who wish to externalise a problem they are incapable of understanding or discussing with any form of rationality, academic objectivity or even humanity.

Your obsession with neatness and narrow methods of community contribution (direct employment through the mainstream economy) borders on the Victorian and is closely related to the very Nazi ideology which Kathleen Smith rightly points out has not died.

To identify a specious difference between good and troublesome travellers ignores the great differences between non-traveller members of the community who themselves contribute most of the crime and uncleanliness.

Additionally, to negate travellers and gipsies as an ethnic community is pure ignorance and a form of ethnic cleansing which flies in the face of recorded history and could easily be interpreted as a move to rob these people of their rightful ethnic identity. Even the European Community recognises gipsies as a distinct ethnic grouping.

It would seem that your rebuttal was designed to pander to the lowest form of simplification and scapegoating, perhaps with the aim of sensationalisation with a view to increased sales?

Why is it wrong to suggest that Swindon people like to find communities other than themselves to blame for their own narrow-minded racist opinions?

If things go wrong is it not the responsibility of the whole community (settled and itinerant) to face up to the issues in a mature and balanced way that recognises all our contributions to this state of affairs?

Finally, you again return to the issue of living at the expense of the rest of us even though it is surely the right of everyone to decide how to live given that gipsies and travellers do contribute through indirect taxes such as VAT on food and petrol etc. Financial and cultural contributions are made to the local, national and European communities that we exist within.


Swindon Road


n IN the last couple of weeks your paper has given considerable coverage to the issue of travellers ranging from the Keep Them Out! headline to the vox pop in the same issue (July 29).

I attended the council meeting where this was discussed and had to put up with the xenophobic and appalling motion by the Tories.

The Labour motion was at least more moderate but little better thought out.

The problems that Swindon has are small compared with many authorities and it deals with them promptly and well.

My faith in local Government and democracy was only saved by the Liberal Democrat amendment that allowed the whole thing to be taken away from the meeting and thought about more carefully.


Blandford Mews,