Basildon Council sunk secret group appointed to solve Dale Farm crisis

The Homes and Communities Agency offer of land and funding for alternative sites had been rejected by Basildon.  

In letters from the Homes and Communities Agency, made public today, it is revealed that Basildon District Council withdrew from the official group tasked to find a housing solution for the Dale Farm community. This left no plan for the Travellers’ welfare following any eviction.

 The ‘Alternative Sites Working Group’ met from November 2009 to August 2010 and included Basildon District Council, Essex County Council, the Government Office for the East of England, plus the former leader of Reigate and Banstead Council and chairman of the Local Government Association Task Force on Gypsies and Travellers (As confirmed in a letter from Homes and Communities Agency to local MEP Richard Howitt, 31 August 2011). They met in secret at the request of Basildon Council. Basildon District Council withdrew in October 2010 and refused to deal with group, over “an alleged breach of confidentiality on details of sites being discussed by the Working Group” (As stated in an email from Homes and Communities Agency to Dale Farm Support Group, 12 Sept 2011).  This stopped its work in finding alternative Traveller sites.

 Dale Farm resident Kathleen McCarthy said, “This is shocking, Basildon Council have put their prejudice above finding a solution to the needs of the Dale Farm community.”

 The Homes and Communities Agency, noted that, “[w]e are willing to place any of our land in Basildon at the Council’s designation as a Gypsy and Traveller site(s). We are willing to identify and invest capital to establish the pitches on such land.”

 However, one planning application on HCA land near the current Dale Farm site has already been rejected by Basildon Council on the stated grounds of road safety.

 Dale Farm resident Kathleen McCarthy continued, “The behaviour of Tony Ball, leader of the Council, makes life for us impossible. He pulled out of the official process to find a new fully legal site, and when we try ourselves, he blocks our proposals for new sites, even when we have full HCA backing. Next weeks’ eviction is about prejudice, pure and simple.”

 The revelations coincide with open letter to the government and Basildon Council that the Council must suspend the eviction and find an alternative culturally acceptable solution to making Dale Farm residents homeless. It was signed by  the Chief Executive of the Children’s Society, Director of Liberty, and MPs Andy Slaughter and Andrew George plus 59 others. (Guardian, 13 September 2011, P33)

Questions have been raised about the motivations for pushing for the eviction as plans are revealed for 900 homes on greenbelt land in the neighbouring district to Basildon. Plans for homes on Jotmans Lane Benfleet have the support of Tory councillors, and face a final vote on the 27th September, after a report by a government inspector highlighted the need for more homes.(Basildon Echo, 13 September 2011, P7)

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50 Responses to Basildon Council sunk secret group appointed to solve Dale Farm crisis

  1. twointoone says:

    When your highly raised CT bill hits your homes i hope you obey the law and pay it with a smile..

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  4. Carrie says:

    On a practical note, anyone wanting to go and help resist the eviction can get a bus there from Wickford (the nearest train station). The number 222 and the 47 go to Crays Hill. There’s a bus stop just opposite Gardiners Lane North which you can then walk down til you get to Oak Rd on your right. There was a security guard there but not stopping people on foot yesterday (Wed 14th). Coming back to Wickford, ask for Hall’s Corner. Costs £1.80

  5. Paddy O'Scumbag says:

    Far from it dear boy. Far from it.

  6. Cllr Pottage. says:

    “They are filth, scum, thieves. Delinquent paedo wife beating inbreds. Get them out of this country. I hope they immolate themselves.”

    Yep, you work for the council allright!

    I know that language a mile off.

    • Sarah (Disgusted) says:

      Were you the same nutter that claimed to work for the bailiffs and fed misinformation about the 12th being the secret date of eviction?

      You sound like a disgruntled wind-up merchant.

      • Justin says:

        Sure, it’s very plausible. And I saw historian Howard Zinn awaken alive the other day.

      • Justin says:

        @Henry Page. Ad homien’s don’t strengthen your arguments. I suppose it’s my fault for feeding a troll. And nothing trolling about posting anti-traveller hysteria type comments on a Save Dale farm supporters’ forum, nooo!

    • Henry Page says:

      Justin … I was actually referring to this comment “They are filth, scum, thieves. Delinquent paedo wife beating inbreds. Get them out of this country. I hope they immolate themselves.” as it appears to be from someone who posts this sort of thing to get the shocked reaction. I stand by my comment, people that indulge in this sort of thing are usually sad individuals that seek attention ….

      • Henry Page says:

        PS … personally I am not for the Dale Farm protest as I believe that we should abide by planning laws.

      • Justin says:

        Ok, I see your point, but I disagree with racketeering, monopolising and bureaucratic planning permission. Planning permission is effectively used to create a cartel in the housing market. The trick is to restrict the supply of housing in order to increase house prices, and therefore demand, which in turn means higher inflated profits for house building companies. And that is why you’ll find greenbelt land has been artificially doubled in size in the last few decades. By the way, one of the signs on the protest last Saturday said, ‘don’t make us part of the housing problem’.
        Planning permission needs to be abolished so that something based on need can take its place, the need for all to have affordable housing and lifelong tenure for rented housing. The provision of housing should be a basic right, but it is denied to millions of people and the shortage of housing must be addressed if we are to avoid these problems.

      • Henry Page says:

        I agree that land reform is required and I doubt we will see that from Cameron and his bunch of greedy, sly, cohorts in the Conservatives … but a free-for-all is not what we need either and that is what most people are worried about, that this will get to the point where there is something bordering anarchy and people will start illegal settlements on the fringes of every town and city.

  7. Paddy O'Scumbag says:

    Multiple millionaires, slavery, dog fights, tax evasion, rape, paedophillia, Irish housing estates.

    Dear me you lot must have Rose tinted specs to believe the Dale farm scum bags are a poor innocent few god fearing Romany types.

    They are filth, scum, thieves. Delinquent paedo wife beating inbreds.

    Get them out of this country.
    I hope they immolate themselves.

  8. Cllr Pottage. says:

    “What’s stopping you guys posting up details of what you allude to in your comments? I suppose that there is a conpiracy stopping you from doing that and censoring the internet?

    Put up or shut up”

    He he he.

    That really is very funny…you must be a journalist!

    Being previously inside Basildon Council, I knew where the info was and how to get to it. Emails too, lots of em. I’ve been waiting years to ave-a-go at that Basildon lot and haven’t waited all this time just to blow it all by feeding it out anonymously on t-internet.

    Much better to wait until the eviction is underway and quietly feed it all out to Channel 4 or the Guardian or some such as it’ll be prescient and in context with ‘the big story’ of the day.

    More impact old boy.

    Sorry if that doesn’t fit in with the travellers aims but organised corruption in local authorities and accounting irregularities is much more important I feel.

    • Justin says:

      Perhaps American investigative journalist Greg Palast would be interested? He has reported for the BBC some years back.

      http://www.gregpalast.com

      • Cllr Pottage. says:

        Now why would I want to click on that link?

        Surely I would just leave my IP address behind (according to my son)!

        I might be an old fart but I’m not that stupid!

      • Justin says:

        I understand what you’re saying. You could always go to a library or use Tor project or something.

    • Chris says:

      I must be a journalist? Some of what you post sounds promising, but then you undermine yourself by making silly statements like that. No i’m not a journalist, work for a paper, or have any connection to Basildon Council or any group ‘against’ the travelling community, unless you count paying my council tax.

      I look forward to reading your revelations on Monday

      • Cllr Pottage. says:

        “I must be a journalist? Some of what you post sounds promising, but then you undermine yourself by making silly statements like that. No i’m not a journalist, work for a paper, or have any connection to Basildon Council or any group ‘against’ the travelling community, unless you count paying my council tax.

        I look forward to reading your revelations on Monday”

        Yes, well I have had a most disappointing day with the media.

        I sent my material to a journalist working for a newspaper and she kept asking me to send more, which I did.

        Then after all the information I sent to her from my sons fax machine she stopped answering my calls. Everytime I called afterwards they kept telling me that she was in a meeting and I should call back later. Then when I called back at 6 O’clock for the last time, they just said she wasn’t available.

        Is this normal? I would think that a professional journalist would at least return my calls.

  9. Cllr Pottage. says:

    “This is a planning issue pure and simple. If I purchased some green belt land from a farmer and built on it without planning permission there would be only one outcome – whatever I had built would have to come down. For the residents of the not permitted part of Dale Farm to claim the eviction is on racist grounds and try to gain support on that basis is an insult to the intelligence of all law-abiding citizens. If Dale Farm is allowed to persist it will open the floodgates for development of green belt land without planning permission. Clearly this cannot be allowed to happen.”

    Oh now come on, for goodness sake, you sound as they you actually work at Basildon Council (or the bailffs!)

    I suppose you can say this is just a planning issue if you want as thats one way to simply ignore the background to all this. And you are right that Basildon Council have been building this thing for the past decade and throughout that decade your council tax bills have been steadily increasing to cover the costs that YOUR council have been spending.

    A lot of that money has gone directly into the pockets of the councillors and family and friends of the councillors.

    As for racism well I’m not entriely sure about that. Its well known inside the council and those who are close to them that race doesn’t play that much of a role. Basildon councillors just hate the travellers because they make the council look foolish (admittedly not hard to do). The travllers don’t go along with planning law and all the expense that that entails and that means that local councillors don’t have any way to fund the kickbacks that they spend their lives supplementing their incomes. Its well known that planning aplications in Basildon are often deliberately held up in order to milk the applicant for as much as possible. The length of a planning application is based on what the applicant can afford to pay in the view of the council and not on the basis of what is in the application.

    All I am saying is that the local councillors in Basildon are like a cartel, they have been trading power with each other for years because local government is a cash cow for them. How many times in that district do you see genuine candidates standing for election from the local community. In Basildon the same people have been in these jobs for years and years. Its easy money.

    Once this operation is done your council tax bills are going to increase not by the amount that has been spent, but by three, four or five times that amount.

    You support the eviction of the travellers but only because you can’t stand the sight of them. Only afterwards will you get to see what this is costing you.

    I know the people of Basildon. You don’t sound like one of them!

    • Leo Hamilton says:

      Thanks for the reply. No, I’m not from Basildon but I do live in Essex. I don’t work for the council or for the bailiffs! The background to this case is that a number of plots of greenbelt land without planning permission were purchased by a group of people who promptly built on those plots and thought they would get away with it. They won’t. I have no gripe against travellers as such, and every local authority has a statutory duty to provide pitches for them. I expect local authorities to meet those obligations. Just for the record a group of travellers pitched up on a field not more than two hundred yards away from where I live. I did not kick up a fuss and did not make any complaint. The authorities asked them to move on which they did around a month later, no problem. Travellers have every right to live their lives as they want to BUT while in this country they must obey the law of the land, pay their taxes (do the travellers at Dale Farm pay council tax? water rates etc? – I don’t know but would like to) and keep the place tidy!

      After a ten year legal battle at huge cost to the taxpayer/ratepayers the end of the road has been reached. The letter signed by numerous MPs etc. saying the travellers should be given more time to find somewhere to go carries no weight with me I’m afraid. They’ve had ten years. Enough is enough.

      • sam says:

        Leo – the travellers at Dale Farm pay around £900 a year per plot in council tax. they also pay for their water and electricity.

  10. Henry Page says:

    What I cannot understand is why the people at Dale Farm insist their children are being ‘uprooted’ from school when travellers by their nature should be travelling.
    http://gobbledegooked.wordpress.com/2011/09/14/q-when-is-a-traveller-not-a-traveller-a-when-he-doesnt-travel/

  11. Pingback: Q: When is a traveller not a traveller? A: When he doesn’t travel. « gobbledegooked

  12. Mark says:

    Greenbelt? Oh really. The site is less than 200 yards from a large retail park and dual carriageway. It is also brownfield (hence why half the site has planning permission). And Basildon council are enacting this just when the Conservatives want to tear up Greenbelt policy in any case!

    The shocking revelation that the Homes and Communities Agency’s offer of land and funding for alternative sites for the Dale Farm community was rejected by Basildon Council last year shows how vindictive Basildon council have been. Surely futher negotiations could have led to their resettlement in another district council elsewhere. BDC ruled this out categorically, to carry out the wishes of a larger constituency not only isolated to Basildon and Wickford of some wider political vendetta based on cultural intolerance.

    Remember the Sun’s “stamp on the Camps” campaign in 2004. perhaps this wider constituency of culutural intolerance I speak of would even take this to the logical conclusion and build a gas chamber if they could get away with it.

    Knowing that that is their underlying feeling, then it’s no wonder that some members of the community would be aggrieved enough to get angry if their homes get razed to the ground, children are wrenched from their mothers’ grasp and the elderly and frail have their water and electricity to operate breathing equipment cut off. Despite the best of intensions to resist peacefully, you’dd be made at that, wouldn’t you.

    • Leo Hamilton says:

      Thanks for the reply. I know from my own tangles with the planners on other matters that land is zoned for a particular purpose. It cannot be greenbelt and brownfield at the same time. If you think it was brownfield is that down to the presence of an illegal scrapyard already breaking planning law before the travellers arrived? Think about it. Greenbelt must have a boundary. At that point it will be one squillionth of an inch from land designated as something else. I followed the localism bill report stage debated in the Commons on the 14th September – yes, I watched it – and in response to points raised by various members during the debate the minister reiterated at the windup that the proposed changes DO NOT AFFECT IN ANY WAY WHATSOEVER the rules applying to greenbelt, SSSI etc.

      I cannot really comment on Basildon Council’s alleged bad behaviour because I haven’t seen the full evidence giving their side of the story. If it should turn out that they have behaved improperly given all the facts I would expect those responsible to be severely dealt with and recompense made in whatever form to the other party.

      • sam says:

        the scrapyard wasn’t illegal. It was a registered as a scrap yard in 1960. The travellers bought that land because they were advised by the then council that planning permission would be granted. Half the site was granted planning permission, then the council changed, leading to a change in policy – it was this policy change that led to planning permission then being denied.

    • Leo Hamilton says:

      P.S. I would be appalled if it were to be the case that Basildon District Council or any other for that matter were proven to have acted with “racist” intent against the travellers. I know that my posts might make me sound anti-traveller. Not the case sir! I really am just banging the planning drum on the basis that anyone resident in a country must comply with the laws of that country.

  13. No Static Travelers says:

    I keep seeing this woman on the news giving it the old “our rights… the poor children”.

    But here she is a few months ago telling how they’ll set caravans and gas canisters alight and use petrol bombs on the bailiffs who are just doing their job.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-essex-14018681

  14. leo hamilton says:

    This is a planning issue pure and simple. If I purchased some green belt land from a farmer and built on it without planning permission there would be only one outcome – whatever I had built would have to come down. For the residents of the not permitted part of Dale Farm to claim the eviction is on racist grounds and try to gain support on that basis is an insult to the intelligence of all law-abiding citizens. If Dale Farm is allowed to persist it will open the floodgates for development of green belt land without planning permission. Clearly this cannot be allowed to happen. I understand that the legal process has been ongoing for the past decade. Perhaps it would make these people think carefully before doing it again if they could be surcharged for the total cost of all legal proceedings and eviction process costs incurred by the taxpayer in protecting our open spaces. That, at least, would be fair to the law-abiding population of our country! For those that say there was a scrapyard there previously, that was also present without planning permission. From pictures I have seen, some areas of Dale Farm haven’t changed much since those days.

  15. Still no word on the Slaves?

    • Magregor says:

      Man helped from Travellers’ site brands Leighton Buzzard arrests ‘rubbish’ as nine men refuse to help investigation

      Alexandra Topping | guardian.co.uk, Monday 12 September 2011

      Police said the men had been kept as virtual slaves in appalling conditions, forced to work long hours doing physically demanding jobs without pay.

      However, the man told the Guardian he had worked for 15 years with one Traveller family who had provided him with work and accommodation when he had nowhere else to go. After refusing to answer police questions, he made his way back to the site. He said: “The police told me I couldn’t come back, but I told them it was my home and if I wanted to go back I would go back.”

      Speaking at the door of her mobile home, one woman – who said she was the wife of one of the arrested men but did not want to be named – said the police claims were “ridiculous”.

      She added: “The men who were taken were getting paid £30 a day, they had somewhere to live, this is all a load of nonsense.”

      At the well-established Greenacre caravan park in Leighton Buzzard, which has 16 mobile homes, one of the men taken by police, who did not want to be named, said he had been living in a caravan on a Traveller plot for several years, working as a paver and was being paid £50 a day.

      “I think it’s all a load of rubbish and they just hate Travellers,” said the man, who is in his
      50s. “Plenty of men who were here wanted to be here and they were getting paid. The police coming in heavy-handed like this is just wrong.”

      • Steph says:

        How much of that £30 and £50 a day went to HMRC?

        We are supposed to feel sorry for these people as they are poor with nowhere else to go yet they can afford butlers?

      • Oh and the multi million pound housing estaste in Ireland being built by them-forgot about that did we? No where else to go? Hmmm

    • So they voluntarily covered themselves in excrement and bruises? They also gave up a stable diet and choose to starve themselves so much, an expert nutritionist had to be called in to save their lives? Ok fair doos

  16. Chris says:

    What’s stopping you guys posting up details of what you allude to in your comments? I suppose that there is a conpiracy stopping you from doing that and censoring the internet?

    Put up or shut up

  17. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Basildon County Council are behaving ignorantly. Peaceful direct action is required at the council officers me thinks?!

    • Justin says:

      It is supposed to be run by the so-called advocates of the free-market, the conservatives. But even by their standards they are not adhering to Austrian school of economics Hayek’s, Von Mises or Murray Rothbard’s idea of the free-market. Planning permission rules are an interference in free-market competition. And I thought conservatives believed in the free-market, only as long as it suits their own ends. ‘Socialism for the rich’ in other words. Yes, the corruption and contradictions of late capitalism!

  18. Patrick Egan says:

    I was at a meeting wth tony ball, i offerd a peacefull solution saving the tax payer £18000,000,000,
    wich has been well documented.
    But one thing that hasn’t been mentioned is that at that same meeting tony ball said that any aplication that we put forward for an alteranative site would be rejected

    • Chris says:

      So what was your proposal? Keep hearing things like this, but no actual substance. I might aswell say i found a cure for cancer

    • Sarah (Disgusted) says:

      This is not costing the tax payer £18 billion.

      In any event, the Law has been broken and it is time to move.

      • Henry Page says:

        I was at a meeting wth tony ball, i offerd a peacefull solution saving the tax payer £18000,000,000 …?!? Are you kidding? £18 billion is a huge sum and not within the remit of a local authority.

  19. Cllr Pottage says:

    Well, I’m very late to all of this (been busy!)

    I think it is truly shocking that Basildon District Council have resorted to a muliti-million pound eviction of these Basildon residents at a time when the country is in such a farcical financial state. The people of Basildon shouldn’t be forced to witness their local council squandering money like this. The problem is that even if this operation to violently force these people out of their homes goes head, the financial penalty for these kind of action carries on. There are people right now looking at the financial affairs of Basildon District Council and the bailiff company and cleverly digging away at them. Its surprising what is coming up, most revealing! Especially with the bailiffs, very murky past there and very unfortunate that they should have placed their confidence on the back of the legal protections of the private sector. That was very foolish indeed.

    I think it isn’t really known at the moment exactly what the financial penalties for the residents of Basildon will be. What you have to understand is that the council will increase your council tax bill from the 2012/2013 period because they will be trading on the back of this operation. They’ve already put this into the public domain and already have you ok with the fact your CT bill will increase. When the bills actually come in though, your going to be seeing a demand for triple or quadruple the actual amount spent. They are going to sting you very badly indeed.

    Its widely known that Basildon Council is one of the most corrupt councils in the UK. Basildon District Councillors have been awarding civil contracts to family members and friends, mis-accounting, re-directing money ear-marked for one spending project toward a unrelated projects the money was never meant to be spent on and so forth, and then fraudulently reporting back false data to government ombudsmen. Shocking.

    In this environment it doesn’t surprise me in the least that they should persecute these travellers while at the same time denying and blocking their attempts to find other sites to go to.

    Its clear that Basildon District Council have steadily pushed this matter to a stage in which they can fabricate a massive and hugly expensive operation to evict these people for no other reason than to ‘make-a-mint’ at the local council tax paying residents expense.

    The MP’s expense scandal has got nothing on this bunch of thieving oiks.

    • Chris says:

      So because of the finances they should have accepted the effects by Sheridan to hold the council to ransom? Utterly ridiculous

      • Cllr Pottage. says:

        No, because of the financial situation the council should not be looking for an opportunity to fleece you while the residents of Basildon are already struggling financially.

        There are a thousand different ways to deal with this and none of them involve spending millions of pounds that the council are going to want YOU to pay back to the government.

        They don’t care about you struggling financially, they only care about how much they get to line their pockets with at the publics expense. They are too busy robbing you blind.

  20. Chris says:

    Oh it’s all a conspiracy. We haven’t got any real proof of it. Lots of gossip, and spurious accusations. Travellers are victims of prejudice, but the cry of victim every time any decision doesn’t go your way is just wrong.

Comments are closed.