I do try to keep from reading these pieces, but the headline Pioneering Traveller Community stands proud against cuts was so egregious that it drew me in, against my better judgement:
But the TRA's [Travellers' Tenants' and Residents' Association] pioneering work is now threatened by cuts to funding for community and voluntary sector groups and a proposed housing development adjacent to the Travellers' homes. The association's efforts to improve its residents' lives had been aided by having a constitution, which has allowed it increased access to charitable funds.Well, maybe not, but I'm not seeing where the traveller community is putting much money into all the endeavours that this article lists. It seems that the community benefits from:
"Travellers don't want to be seen as if we were asking people for money," says TRA chair Patrick O'Donnell.
- attending local primary schools;
- full NHS GP and dentist access;
- internet connections and associated classes;
- monetary support for driving theory tests; and
- money for their residents' association
Now, each and every one of these schemes may be a good idea. However, their cost is borne either by local residents (via council tax) or nationwide taxpayers (where Government grants are used). For the TRA to complain about cuts is a little cheeky:
But MacNamara fears Traveller TRAs will suffer from council funding cuts. "If the TRAs and other stakeholders want something but the local authority can't afford it, then it's very unlikely to happen. That's the problem with the coalition government's big society idea, in a nutshell."Well, the idea of the Big Society is that everyone contributes. What, exactly, is the TRA contributing back? Why should the desires of a group that pay no council taxes take precedent over taxpaying households trying to survive on the minimum wage?
Stable Way itself is in Kensington and Chelsea, just off the A40 Westway and within a stone's throw of BBC Television Centre and the new Westfield Mall at White City. One can only imagine the site's commercial value; it baffles me why the traveller community hasn't sold it and bought a larger and nicer plot of land somewhere less urban.
The obligatory bios of the journalists: Keith Cooper is a former deputy editor of the magazine Inside Housing. He is a PhD candidate at the University of Essex, researching autonomy and the Mental Capacity Act in the Department of Philosophy. Anita Pati seems to specialise in charities and cooperatives, and also wrote for Inside Housing. Inside Housing magazine is apparently the magazine for housing professionals, though it takes a little bit of reading to realise that its focus is actually social housing. So, fellow taxpayers, I think we can guess what kind of organisations form the bulk of its subscriptions and how tightly this would correlate with subscriptions to The Grauniad...