National Alliance of Gypsy Traveller & Roma Women has issued a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman after an officer from Coventry City Council made in appropriate Comment about Gypsies /Travellers while speaking on BBC Radio
Coventry City Council failed to act when one of their officers made inappropriate and inaccurate comments about a group of Gypsy /Travellers that had set up an encampment in a neighbouring Coles Hill.
Speaking on BBC Radio Warwickshire on 31st March 2016 Nigel Clews Coventry City Councils Assistant Director of Property Asset Management made speculative comment in regard to a group of Gypsy /Travellers who had recently moved on from an unauthorised encampment at Coles Hill Memorial Park which is owned by Coleshill Town Town Council.Mr Clews made the following speculative comments surrounding the reasons why the Gypsy /Travellers moved on. NAGTRW cite these comments as being speculative and discriminatory and breached Coventry City Councils public sector duties under the Equality Act 2010
[transcript of voice recording]
“In my view there was a threat of the use of Police powers move them on and there must have been some presence of – you know- other aggravating factors like anti-social behaviour or some criminal evidence-um-where the p0lice would have threatened presumably to arrest them and – um – you know’
Mr Clews admitted he had not received any confirmation of what had actually happened from Coles Hill Town Council, and it is clear that before making these comments he did not contact Warwickshire Police.
NAGTRW have contacted Warwickshire Police , who have been very helpful and provided a detailed chronology of what took place on the day in question, and the role the police played in relation to the unauthorised encampment.
The Police had not either used or threatened to use and ‘powers to move them on’ indeed the Gypsy/Travellers moved on of their own accord and after negotiation with Local Councillors.
As previously stated Coventry City Council like all other Local Authorities have public sector duties under the Equalities Act 2010 that require them to ‘foster good relations between people who share protected characteristics and people who do not share it’ Gypsies and Travellers are recognised Law as an ethnic minority, and are there fore people who share ‘protected charateristics’
Coventry City Council responded to a complaint made to them by NAGTRW, in a letter dated the 7th April 2016 Martin Yardley Executive Director of Coventry City Councils Place Direcorate dismissed NAGTRW’S complaint and stated that ‘The councils complaints process does have two stages, however due to the seniority of the officer being investigated I have treated this as a stage two complaint” he went on to say that if NAGTRW remained unhappy in the way in which the council has dealt with our complaint ‘you can contact the Local Government Ombudsman’
NAGTRW can confirm that a complaint has been lodged with the Local Authority Ombudsman and we are awaiting their response.