BASILDON Council needs to put its political differences aside and spot using residents as “pawns” in the battle against travellers, a campaigner claims.

Chris Walsh, whose parents live off Hovefields Avenue, Wickford - where two sites are being illegally expanded by travellers - has criticised councillors in response to a blog written by Tory Andrew Schrader.

Mr Walsh writes that Basildon Council was made aware of the illegal developments in August 2016, and could have launched proceedings there and then - but instead waited until “4,000 tonnes of hardcore and six mobile homes” were delivered.

He claims if they had acted quicker, it would have been easier for a High Court judge to rule to remove them.

He added: “The council took seven months to write letters to contractors delivering hardcore to warn them that they were breaching a High Court order.

“Once this letter was sent, the flow of hardcore stopped almost totally.

“For me, this is not “standing strong”.

“This is dithering, and fiddling whilst Rome burns - to coin a phrase.”

He calls on councillors to work together on providing travellers with legal pitches - so the argument that they have nowhere else to go wouldn’t stand up in court.

He says that the situation has gone on for long enough. Mr Walsh added: “I personally feel that the residents of Hovefield Avenue, and the travellers, are in danger of being used as pawns in a political game of chess.

“When the Tories held the balance of power, the other parties were lining up to decry their approach to enforcement, and now the other parties are in power, it is the other way round.

“Everyone seems to be queuing up to say the other isn’t doing their job properly, whilst failing to offer viable solutions to an endemic problem.

“I would urge all councillors to place party politics to one side for once, get around the table like reasonable adults, and thrash out a solution to this problem.”