Thursday, 30 September 2010

Travelling is a lifestyle choice...

Now, dear reader, I know you are of a sensitive disposition so it is only fair to warn you that some people might find what is to follow offensive. Not offensive as in “I’m really upset by what you said about me” but offensive as in “I’m not really offended at all but I am going to display my supposed moral superiority by saying that you are being offensive to some or other group in our diverse society.”

So here goes, dear reader…

Being a traveller is a life style choice.

Living in a caravan and wandering from place to place is not an inevitable function of ethnicity – assuming there is actually some real ethnic specificity to being a traveller. There are plenty of Gypsies (or are we supposed to called them Roma these days – I lose track of the precise and politically correct designation) who live in houses, who don’t wander from place to place and who go about an otherwise unremarkable life. These people are not travellers (except on those occasions when they go some place for a visit).

As I said, being a traveller is a lifestyle choice. And it is a lifestyle choice that doesn’t always endear those making that choice to other folk. It is also a lifestyle choice that makes it pretty difficult to ensure that children get an education, get vaccinated and get treated for illnesses.

Now I don’t have any problem with people deciding that they want a life on the open road – that’s their business. I can even deal with some of the negatives in a pretty laissez-faire manner. And I have had a few ‘live and let live’ arguments with locals about travellers.

But I do object to vast sums of public money being directed to picking up the pieces behind ‘travellers’ and I can think of better ways for Yorkshire Councils and the European Union to spend £1,000,000 than on RomaSOURCE which intends:

“…to make sure that local communities in Yorkshire, which have only recently seen significant migration by European Roma, learn from the experiences of other European countries where Roma have traditionally lived. This will benefit not only Roma themselves, but also lessen the impact on existing communities in places where Roma have settled.”

And I don’t agree with Cllr Rowley from Wakefield that:

“This project will provide a great opportunity to make sure we are developing the skills and knowledge we need to provide services to this extremely vulnerable group. Doing this will benefit both Roma people and the communities that they live alongside.”

Note the word "alongside" there! As I said – being a traveller is a lifestyle choice.

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