At a time when David Cameron tells us that we must accept economic austerity measures, it is barbaric that a council should spend 18 million pounds to evict a group of Travellers. However, this is exactly what Basildon council is doing.
Dale Farm, Crays Hill, Essex, is the UK’s largest Traveller community. There are approximately 100 properties on the site. Most of these are owned by Travellers of Irish heritage, although some Romani families also own properties on the site. The estate is divided in two sections: the front part (about 45 plots) has been granted planning permission while the back part (52 plots) has been refused planning permission, despite numerous applications and appeals. The site was previously a disused scrap yard. 90% of planning applications submitted by Travellers are rejected initially compared to an average figure of 20% overall.
Caving in to racial prejudice, Basildon District Council (BDC) has set aside 18 million pounds to clear the site, which includes 10 million pounds of policing costs. At a time when the UK is suffering massive job losses and we are told to tighten our belts, it is outrageous that BDC should approve such a budget. An attempt to ‘ethnically cleanse the area by evicting the Travellers is a disgrace. The Dale Farm community would be made homeless if the eviction goes ahead.
The United Nations has condemned BDC for taking such a course of action and has asked for the eviction to be put on hold. Amnesty International has also condemned the eviction.
In May 2005, the BDC voted to take direct action, setting aside 3 million euros for an eviction and demolition operation. Residents of Dale Farm sought a Judicial Review of this decision and won in the High Court. This judgment was overturned by the Court of Appeal on 22 January 2009. An appeal to the House of Lords was denied on 14 May 2009. In the most recent court case, the Judicial Review was thrown out by the High Court.
Mr Justice Kenneth Parker said that the 2009 proceedings in the Court of Appeal relating to Dale Farm were of “crucial significance”. The court concluded that the council’s decision to enforce the eviction was entirely lawful as Article 8 of the Human Rights Act had been considered and the proper procedure followed. Justice Kenneth Parker rejected the claim that a further step had to be taken enabling individuals facing eviction to have access to an independent tribunal. He said: “It is in the public interest that there should be finality to litigation and only exceptionally can decisions and judgments which have been determined by the courts reopened.” He added that the only aspect which gave him some concern was medical evidence received since the Court of Appeal decision that informed him of a significant deterioration in the health of one of the Travellers.
We urge all people to come to the Dale Farm site and support those who are resisting the eviction attempt by Basildon District Council. The eviction is set to be one of the largest evictions to date and hundreds of women, children and families are going to be made destitute if it goes ahead. We must not allow this to happen. A protest camp (Camp Constant) has been set up to resist the removal of the farm’s residents and people are urged to come to Dale Farm and see the situation themselves. The Daily Mail is falsely claiming that Anarchists have overrun the camp. Such fabrications need to be challenged.
Basildon Council said they plan to close off the roads leading to Dale Farm on the 12th of September in an effort to thwart people from coming to Camp Constant. Police and bailiffs are due to start moving into the camp on Monday the 19th of September.
We have seen a media backlash forcing the parliamentarians like the Labour leader Ed Milliband to say he supports the clearing of the camp. However, there have also been celebrities, such as Vanessa Redgrave, coming out to support residents of Dale Farm.
By far the most prejudiced statement about Dale Farm has come from Stuart Agnew, the UK Independence Party MEP for the East of England, who welcomed the council’s decision.
He said: ”I am increasingly astonished to hear religious leaders, politicians and now, even an actress, calling for the laws of the land to be set aside to accommodate the Travellers who have illegally taken over the site at Dale Farm. We cannot have laws that are only enforced on parts of the community. The law should be for everybody. Do we really want to set the precedent that if people occupy land without planning permission and stay there long enough, they will be given retrospective permission to remain, in contravention of the law? I am sure that most residents in the Crays Hill area would support the enforcement of the law. I have had to follow strict planning regulations in putting buildings on my farm and I expect Travellers to be subject to the same regulations. In my view, the rule of law must be respected. The alternative is anarchy.”
This kind of racist bigotry needs to be opposed.
Please support the Dale Farm campaign SAVE DALE FARM
Please note that this reporter ‘J’ will be at Dale Farm on the day of the eviction. Keep an eye on Twitter for first hand reports from Dale farm.Tags: Domestic (UK)
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This post was written by J