Basildon Council must take this time to fulfil its responsibility to find and approve a legal and culturally suitable site for the Dale Farm community. Dale Farm residents and supporters urge Basildon to take up the offer made by the Homes and Communities Agency for land and funding in the Basildon area. It is imperative that the Council engages in a meaningful and appropriate way with residents in fulfilling the injunction. A leaked source has revealed that the Council intends to communicate with the residents via email. The Council is aware of the fact that due to limited opportunities for schooling for most Travellers, a large proportion of the Dale Farm residents are illiterate, and have virtually no access to email. Once again, Basildon Council is putting its overeagerness to evict Dale Farm over following due process.
It’s clear that Tony Balls’ obsession with bulldozing Dale Farm has got in the way of common sense. Basildon Council’s incompetence stems directly from their intolerance of the Traveller community, and their refusal to work with the residents to locate alternative sites. They were so determined to drive the Dale Farm community from the Basildon area, that they didn’t follow the rules and procedures that they claim to hold in such high esteem. The judge expressed the widely held concern that the eviction would go beyond what was lawful.
We urge Basildon Council to take this opportunity to negotiate an alternative site for the Dale Farm community that is legal and culturally appropriate. On the date of yesterday’s attempted eviction, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance noted the “rising tide” of intolerance and bigotry against Travellers, Roma and Gypsies, and have advised that providing adequate sites is crucial to avoiding racism. They urged local government to give legal status to sites “once the situation has been tolerated for a long period of time by the public authorities.” We hope Basildon will achieve a sense of perspective.