Public Sector: Basildon chief slams traveller PR tactics

Basildon Council's head of comms has claimed that the 'emotive' campaigning by supporters of the Dale Farm traveller camp threatens to seriously damage the council's reputation.

Eighty-six families are set to be evicted within the next fortnight from the camp in Basildon, Essex, after the High Court refused an application for a temporary injunction that would have delayed it.

Basildon Council's comms has been led by interim head of comms Cormac Smith, an employee of Westminster Council, which is currently overseeing the Essex district council's PR operation.

Smith's comments were reported on prweek.com/uk (2 September). He said there was a 'huge amount of misinformation' in the media, such as suggestions that the council will cut off the camp's gas and electricity. He added that the media's use of the term 'ethnic cleansing' had been 'extremely unhelpful'.

Smith said: 'The campaigners are fighting on emotional terms. They use women and children to tell their story.'

Oscar-winning actress Vanessa Redgrave has been a high-profile campaigner for the travellers. She said: 'Evicting these families would be totally unreasonable and irresponsible. The council has said there are no alternatives but there are alternatives.'

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