Police have been attending a number of areas of Southend Seafront today after more than 10000 travellers arrived in the town shortly after 10am. According to witnesses along the section of coast between Pier Hill and The Kursaal, business owners and law enforcement officials have been struggling to cope with people travelling to Southend, and there have already been a number of ugly scenes involving the travellers and local residents.
We spoke to one of the travellers earlier to see why they had decided to visit the town today. Patrick Thompson said: ‘We have travelled all the way from Colchester to visit Southend today, and a lot of other people have travelled over even greater distances to come and sample The Essex Rivieira – my third cousin set out from Manningtree at 7am to travel here to be sure of finding a parking space. We love it here, but a number of police officers have approached us and told us about how travellers like us are increasing police costs by all travelling and arriving in the town on the same day – didn’t they have some sort of special day with airplanes at some point where people travelled here from all over the UK before travelling home again?’
As more and more travellers crowded into the area just before lunchtime, it was confirmed that all public car parks had been closed to ensure that the already-full parking areas didn’t become clogged up with more travellers – this decision forced a number of travelling people to give up and travel to other places including Shoeburyness and Chalkwell.
A council tourism official arrived at 1pm to investigation the traveller situation, and he said: ‘For a while, we have been saying that travellers have been making it near-impossible to maintain a police presence for events like The Airshow, and warm weather like today’s conditions makes thousands of travelling tourists travel over long travelling distances and spend large amounts of time and money in our town. This is a financial nightmare and we are investigating ways to stop people travelling here to invest in the local economy.’