Friends, Families and Travellers call for Tandridge District Council to address anti-Traveller comments made by local Councillor
Cllr Pursehouse in hot water after saying 'Travellers had robbed local shops blind'
Friends, Families and Travellers have called on Tandridge Council to take swift action to address comments made by local Councillor, Jeremy Pursehouse about Gypsies and Travellers on Facebook. In posts made over recent months, Councillor Pursehouse has made a number of allegations suggest that Gypsies and Travellers have contributed to criminal activity in Tandridge, allegations which are not supported by the local police.
In November last year, Councillor Jeremy Pursehouse uploaded a video to his Facebook page of a Tandridge District Council meeting where he made allegations of Travellers in the area ‘robbing shops blind’ and stealing ‘thousands of pounds of stuff’. These allegations were denied by the Borough Commander in the meeting who confirmed that no such reports had been made.
In a letter to Tandridge Council, Friends, Families and Travellers have identified that the comments made by Councillor Pursehouse do not comply with the Member’s Code of Conduct to ‘promote equality by not discriminating unlawfully against any person, and by treating people with respect regardless of their race, age, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability.’
The letter reminds The Monitoring Officer at Tandridge Council that Romany Gypsies and Irish Travellers are legally recognised as ethnic groups and as such are protected from discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.
Friends, Families and Travellers have asked for Councillor Pursehouse to be reprimanded for his absolute failure to treat Gypsies and Travellers with respect, to promote equality and to not discriminate unlawfully against any person and to address accepted levels of racism against Gypsies and Travellers in future council meetings.
In response to the comments Sarah Mann, Director of Friends, Families and Travellers said,
“I am appalled and saddened that the comments made by Councillor Pursehouse were not challenged by other Councillors or other representatives of Tandridge Council when they were made in November. This incident shows that much more needs to be done to ensure that elected members are aware that there is no room for anti-Gypsyism in public life.”
Speaking to Surrey Live, Cllr Pursehouse said he was "happy" to stand by his remarks, describing them as "fact".
Surrey Live also reported that Cllr Pursehouse's allegation was challenged by neighbourhood inspector, Mr Gutierrez, who confirmed that police had not received any reports of theft.