Press release: Final opportunity to stop Dale Farm eviction at High Court

News Release 

Final opportunity to stop Dale Farm eviction at High Court 

On the eve of the largest forced eviction of Travellers in Europe on record, the High Court in London will consider an injunction to delay the eviction until Basildon Council has found alternative, culturally-appropriate accommodation, as is required by international law.

The High Court will sit at noon on Wednesday 31 August to consider the case brought by lawyers on behalf of the 86 Traveller families living at Dale Farm in Essex who face forced eviction from the property that they have owned for the last 10 years. Residents will be joined by supporters from across Europe in a demonstration in front of the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand, London from 12.00 noon. The actress Vanessa Redgrave, who visited Dale Farm on the 30 August, will be among those in attendance.

The United Nations’ special rapporteur on housing, Raquel Rolnik, and Rita Izsak, the UN’s independent expert on minority issues, have called on government ministers to provide “Adequate alternative housing for 86 Irish Traveller families faced with forced eviction from Dale Farm, Essex, before the end of August”. “We urge the UK authorities to halt the evictions process and to pursue negotiations with the residents until an acceptable agreement for relocation is reached in full conformity with international human rights obligations,” said Ms Rolnik.

If the High Court fails to grant the injuction, Dale Farm could be destroyed by bulldozers at any time after midnight tonight. The bailiffs’ operations will be supported by local and national police forces, including riot police. The eviction and the police operation supporting it will together cost an estimated £18 million, which is more than one third of Basildon Council’s annual budget.

Residents of Dale Farm assert that they were misled by a previous government, which promised that they would be granted planning permission to settle on the former scrapyard that the Council is now claiming as green-belt land (see attached photograph of the scrapyard before it was purchased by the residents). Basildon Council’s plans will force the community, which includes infants and elderly people who require constant medical care, onto the roads of Britain with no suitable site to move to. The case being heard tomorrow will consider the legality of this mass eviction that is set to make more than 300 people homeless.

“This is our last chance to appeal to a judge to stop the eviction”, said Kathleen McCarthy, a resident of Dale Farm. “We hope British justice will see fit to save us from this act of ethnic-cleansing.”

The Travellers at Dale Farm have said that they will move, at their own cost, should Basildon Council grant them planning permission on other brown-field sites that have been put forward as alternative accommodation by a government agency, the Homes and Communities Agency. However, Basildon Council has so far refused this proposal, preferring instead to expel from their borough those Travellers living on the half of Dale Farm that does not have planning permission. Residents and their supporters have condemned this refusal by Basildon Council as a form of ethnic-cleansing.

While the demonstration in front of the Royal Courts of Justice takes place, Camp Constant, the protest camp formed in recent days by the Dale Farm Solidarity Group, made up of supporters of Dale Farm from across Europe, will continue its preparations to resist the bailiffs’ bulldozers.

“Dale Farm residents have invited us into their homes and welcomed us with open arms,” said Natalie Fox, a protester living at Dale Farm. “We urge the public to join us there to try to halt this senseless eviction.”

Wednesday 31 August

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