On August 27th, days before an ultimatum given to Travellers at Dale Farm in Essex expires, supporters will gather to confront the impending eviction. They will be setting up a base, called Camp Constant, from which they will protest the eviction and organise human rights monitoring of police and bailiffs. Supporters are coming to the camp from as far away as Sweden, and some are planning to engage in civil disobedience to resist the eviction, which will make the 100 families homeless. Families at Dale Farm have been given until August 31st to abandon their homes or face bulldozing. The protest camp is welcoming supporters to come for the weekend for workshops and cultural celebrations, and will remain at Dale Farm throughout the eviction.
Dale Farm is home to the largest Traveller community of it’s kind in the
UK, and sits atop a former scrapyard which was purchased by the community thirty years ago.
Basildon Council intends to cut water and electricity supplies from Dale
Farm after of the eviction notice period expires. Amnesty International have condemned this as it will leave sick, elderly, young, and pregnant residents without access to water or electricity. Because no alternative sites have been accepted by the Council, families will be forced to either stay at Dale Farm with no water or electricity, or become homeless. Government inspectors have noted that Basildon has a “dire shortage” of Traveller sites, and have placed pressure on the Council to provide 62 pitches. Despite this pressure, the Council is choosing to continue with its plans to spend £18million on the eviction while failing to provide appropriate alternative housing for evicted families.
Basildon Council also appears poised to blockade Dale Farm, and have issued a notice saying that roads leading to the Dale Farm site will be closed to all but residents, and that footpaths will be a “no-stop zone”. “Residents are feeling under siege, with children asking how many more nights they are going to be able to sleep in their beds,” said Natalie Fox, who supports the Travellers.
Although the residents of Dale Farm legally own the former scrapyard where they live, they have proposed several alternative sites to the Council, which have been consistently rejected. Two new sites have been proposed and are awaiting planning permission in October. “Why is this eviction steamrolling ahead when a peaceful solution is within sight,” added Fox.
“The support camp has been set up to protest the fact that Basildon Council is choosing to go ahead with this eviction despite significant human rights violations. When we can find £18 million to make people homeless, but can’t find money to fund schools and communities, something terrible has gone wrong,” said Yoshka Pundrik, a member of Dale Farm Solidarity, who is helping set up Camp Constant.