Press release: The whole world is watching

International support for Dale Farm residents as hundreds march in protest at their threatened eviction, planned to begin from the 19th September

Hundreds, including a Member of the European Parliament, political and human rights groups and supporters from the local area, all over the UK and beyond marched from Wickford Station to Dale Farm on Saturday in solidarity with the beleaguered residents of the former scrapyard, how home to 100 families under threat of eviction by Basildon Council.

The campaign to save Dale Farm, initially supported by local church groups and friends of the community and long given the vocal backing of figures such as Lord Avebury and Vanessa Redgrave, has been receiving messages of solidarity from Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, and Australia, with supporters travelling from mainland Europe to stay at Camp Constant, a resistance and solidarity camp on the site. Residents were visited last week by Bishop Thomas McMahon of Brentwood and Bishop Stephen Cottrell of the Diocese of Chelmsford, and residents have outspoken support from the Jewish community. Protests are planned at British Embassies in Berlin and Dublin to show support to the families facing eviction.

Kathleen McCarthy, a resident of Dale Farm, said, ‘there are people here from all over the world, I just met a girl from America who supports us. It’s great to know people are listening, and people are hearing our voices, even if our own Government isn’t.’

Richard Howitt, Labour MEP for the East of England, joined the march and spoke afterwards as supporters enjoyed lunch and a cup of tea with residents:

‘Their rights are not just for Traveller families to have a home, and for their children to have an education. But for their culture to be respected. To be able to live according to the Traveller lifestyle…. As a Member of the European Parliament I am deeply ashamed that action here in this community is bringing international opprobrium against our country. That Britain’s international reputation for tolerance, fairness and justice is being damaged at what may happen next. And that the time to listen to the criticism is now not later.’

Kartik Raj, speaking on behalf of Amnesty International, which recently sent out an Urgent Action to its members on behalf of Dale Farm, said, ‘hundreds of people are writing to Basildon Council from all over the world to express their horror at the evictions.’

The South East Region Trades Union Congress (SERTUC), No Borders, No One Is Illegal, No Sweat, and Unite Against Fascism also sent representatives who spoke out against the eviction.

International pressure on the British Government is growing, with concern expressed by two different UN Special Rapporteurs, the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racism and Discrimination and the Council of Europe, and news of the planned UN visit later in September. Mr Howitt has repeatedly called for the British Government to release the Council of Europe report, to no avail. Next week the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights in Vienna will debate the evictions.

The UN has spoken out strongly against the evictions, with the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination writing several times to the UK government expressing concern and calling for protection of the human rights of the families. A statement of the 2nd September called on the UK Government to suspend the planned eviction, which would disproportionately affect the lives of the Gypsy and Traveller families, particularly women, children and older people.

Dale Farm is home to the largest Traveller community in the UK, a former scrapyard which was purchased by the community thirty years ago. The residents of Dale Farm have pledged to leave if alternate sites can be found, and two planning applications have been lodged which are due to be heard in October. 90% of Gypsy and Traveller planning applications are turned down, compared with 20% overall. Government inspectors have noted that Basildon has a “dire shortage” of Gypsy and Traveller sites, and have placed pressure on the Council to provide 62 pitches. Because no alternative sites have been approved, families will be forced to stay at Dale Farm or become homeless.

-Press pack available at https://dalefarm.wordpress.com/press/

-Interview, comment and photos available from savedalefarm@gmail.com, 07583 761462

-For directions to get to Dale Farm, see https://dalefarm.wordpress.com/contact/

– The £18 million cost of the eviction includes £10 million for policing- £6 million of which was granted by the Home Office

At the request of residents, members of the press are asked to restrict their visits to the hours of 11am-12pm and 3pm-4pm, unless by prior appointment. To make an appointment, call 07583 761462.

This entry was posted in Press releases and media advisories, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Press release: The whole world is watching

  1. Pingback: Press releases and media advisories | Dale Farm Travellers | WorldWright's …

  2. Yawn……..£1/4 million a year in housing benefits, paid to a relative of the Gypsy Council President- who lives on a site in Ireland where 10 Dale Farm residents own houses….who gives a toss about the ‘planning law’ perspective????

  3. A definite whiff of racism in this. It’s too much money to spend on scrapyard conservation.

  4. William Stammers says:

    I thank you kindly jimmy for clarifying the matter, my point being why a different law for those who protest loudest, when we upright law-abiding citizens of this country have to go through the correct procedure. There is a very small majority of people in Uk who would love to see anarchy reign, may it never happen!!

  5. So why are the Tories trying to axe planning laws -( wealthy friends in the building trade )- one law for one section of society and evictions for others. The telegraph 4thsept 2011 article by Richard Gray.

  6. Jimmy says:

    It was in County Durham in 1991 and the man’s name was Albert Dryden. He shot dead council planning officer Harry Collinson. Mr. Dryden is still in jail today. Here’s an extract of the media report:

    “IT started as a quirky planning row between an eccentric ex-steelworker and his local council planning department.

    Albert Dryden had ploughed his redundancy money into a one-acre plot of land at Eliza Lane, Butsfield, a few miles from Consett, which he called Maryland Close.

    He put up two greenhouses, a shed, parked a caravan on the land and built an archway at the gated entrance.

    Then he hired a digger and scooped out more than 2,000 tonnes of earth from near the fence with the road and built a partly-sunken bungalow in the resulting hole and formed a screening mound around it.

    It looked a bit ramshackle to say the least but the biggest problem was that Dryden, who wanted to spend his time tinkering with American cars and growing vegetables and keeping livestock did not have planning permission.

    Derwentside District Council – since abolished in County Durham’s local government shake-up of two years ago – was not going to approve an unsightly development in a fairly attractive rural area made up of conventional farms.

    The council, which was keen to create an environment conducive to tourism, was also worried that the strange bungalow represented a precedent that would unlock the door to other housing on land where it would not normally be permitted.

    Albert Dryden and his bungalow – which was apparently inspired by a man who beat the need for planning permission by building a home completely underground – was, at least to begin with, a tale of the archetypal little man versus bureaucracy with a heavy dash of English eccentricity thrown in for good measure.

    Dryden lost his planning appeal to keep the bungalow although the Government inspector who chaired the hearing said some of the other buildings could stay because of the time they had been there.

    The wrangle dragged on for several months with the council attempting to get a compromise that would avoid the need to bulldozer the bungalow.

    The last suggestion was that Dryden modify the building and use it for keeping livestock but he rejected it Finally councillors had had enough and they decided there was no option but demolition, as the law provides for.”

  7. Julius. says:

    Sounds like the Activists have taken over.

  8. William Stammers says:

    A few years ago, there was a man in the Yorkshire area I believe who built a bathroom without planning consent, he did everything, plans, architects, builders inspection THE LAW stated that at each stage the local council should have inspected , they had not, therefore he had to be pulled down, the council turned up with baillifs, police etc. The houseowner pulled ou a gun and shot the council representive dead. Did he die in vain? THE LAW is the law, and in a fre and democratic society, we have th right to criticise in not to break it!!

Comments are closed.