Letter: How New Age travellers abuse the right of valid protest

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The Independent Online
Sir: In your leading article 'Voices of dissent denied a fair hearing' (10 October), you make a plea for less 'social conservatism' and more 'live and let live' in today's Britain - this is in the course of attacking the Criminal Justice Bill.

There may well be merit in your general comments, and it will be a pity if the problems that may arise through the pursuit of alternative lifestyles are addressed in a draconian and illiberal manner, but your article fails to carry conviction because it refuses to acknowledge that there is frequently no trace of 'live and let live' in the activities of, particularly, New Age travellers. In the instances of which I have some knowledge, travellers took over the whole of an area of common land actively used by neighbouring people, and seemed quite immune to any sense that this affected the rights of others.

A Bill that 'makes their lifestyle virtually impossible to enjoy within the law' is bad, I must agree. But will you please not tell us, in lecturing tones, that these were the activities of liberal- minded young people and a valid protest against conventional, ownership-obsessed society.

Yours truly,

J. M. SMITH

Wirral, Merseyside

11 October

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