... but travellers defend decision
PEOPLE from the Welsh Romany Gypsy community have fiercely defended the funeral that brought traffic chaos to Cardiff.
On Thursday hundreds of mourners from across the UK attended the funeral of Wesley Sykes.
Their cars were parked on Rover Way overnight on Wednesday and forced police to shut the road for more than 18 hours causing major disruption for businesses and drivers .
Father-of-four Mr Sykes, 34, died in “exceptionally tragic circumstances” while on holiday in Turkey.
Now one of Mr Sykes’ relatives has come out to defend the funeral.
Henry Price, the uncle of Mr Sykes’ widow, said: “I understand there was a lot of people who were upset.
“It was not a deliberate thing to bring it to a halt, it was a bereavement to a young life lost.
“That was very important to our community and therefore we are entitled to have the same type of funeral and [for] how long we need to do do what we do in our culture.”
Mr Price, 45, a dad-of-six who lives in Castleton near Old St Mellons, said that Wesley Sykes was much loved.
He said: “He was a lovely, honest, genuine guy. A family man who loved his kids and wife very much.”
He said that people had come from as far as Dover, the north-east and other parts of the world to attend the funeral.
He said they attended on Wednesday night for the wake ahead of the funeral on Thursday at St Margaret’s Church and then Pantmawr Cemetery in Rhiwbina.
Parts of the city were brought to gridlock because of the blockage on Rover Way. But Mr Price was adamant that the community should have the right to block roads.
He said: “Why should we or they or any other human being be told what to do in their own culture?
“I would not let anyone tell me what to do. If roads must be blocked off, roads must be blocked off, whether the police block them off or we block them off ourselves.”
Among the most vocal critics of the funeral was South Wales Central AM Andrew RT Davies.
He said: “This unacceptable behaviour is bringing the roads in our city to a grinding halt and it’s disgraceful that law-abiding citizens are expected to have to endure severe disruption for what could go on for as long as 24 hours.
“If I were to cause a similar obstruction on the A48 with a tractor or two, they’d be towed away within hours.”
He added that “no leeway or excuses” should be applied.
In response Mr Price said the AM should “show more respect”.
He said: “He said that we should not be allowed to do that and bring the Welsh roads to a close, but then how many times does it happen with other people’s funerals and football and rugby matches?”
Mr Price said the Traveller and Gypsy community face discrimination on a daily basis.
He said: “We are human beings, not animals. Before it was acceptable to call black people or Irish people certain words and you can’t now, which is right. But the only people they can comment about like that is the gypsies.”
Cardiff council leader Huw Thomas said: “It is understood that the circumstances relating to the young person who passed away were exceptionally tragic and members of the travelling community have travelled far and wide to attend.”
Rover Way completely re-opened just before 1.30pm on Thursday.
South Wales Police said they had been told about the funeral but that it was larger than expected.
A spokesman said that the decision to close Rover Way was taken for “public safety reasons”.
The road was closed at just after 5pm on Wednesday.
The Chief Constable of South Wales Police said that officers faced more than 50 vehicles obstructing Rover Way and that they put public safety first.
Motorists reported that short journeys took them more than two hours after the main road between the east of Cardiff and Cardiff Bay was closed on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning. Some businesses say they lost thousands or pounds due to the closure of Rover Way.
Henry Price, of Wentloog