News that a Council of Europe fact-finding mission will visit Dale Farm next month has lent encouragement to the ninety beleaguered families facing eviction from Britain’s largest Gypsy village.
The visit will take place on the eve of Basildon’s extraordinary council meeting on 14 March when members must decide whether to go-ahead with what has been labelled a £13m ethnic-cleansing operation.
Families at Dale Farm now hope that lack of funding for the eviction together with this timely European investigation under the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities will sway councillors to vote at least for a delay to the long-planned clearance.
“We’re in the midst of finding alternate places to which we can move peacefully,” commented Richard Sheridan, president of the Gypsy Council. “To this end we’re working closely with our MP John Baron and council leader Tony Ball.”
Dale Farm representatives have their next meeting with John Baron on 1 March at Westminster. They are expected to report on the progress of a planning application to develop a mobile-home park for some those made homeless at Dale Farm on land offered by the Homes and Communities Agency.
Because of ecological and other objections already being raised over an initial site at Pound Lane, an alternation location on HCA-owned brownfield in the Gardiners Lane South locality is being considered.
While in London during the second week in March, the FCPNM is to told talks with the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which has also opposed the Dale Farm eviction. The EHRC could be asked to join in a possible legal challenge as it did in 2005 should Basildon serve a 28-day notice on the so-called unauthorized residents.
Meanwhile, supporters are gathering at Dale Farm at the weekend for activities in connection with non-violent resistance to Constant & Co bailiffs, the security company which specializes in forceful removal of Gypsies, being hired by Basildon council at a cost of several million pounds.