Dale Farm eviction now untenable

Pre-court indications suggest that Basildon Council is set to concede multiple plots which lack sufficient grounds for enforcement. With a hotch potch of spared plots remaining developed it is clear that Dale Farm cannot be returned to greenbelt. Numerous structures built while it was a scrapyard cannot be demolished. Millions of pounds have already been wasted. The cohesion of the Dale Farm community, and a generation of Traveller children’s education, is at stake. Families will be split up and many will still be made homeless, but Dale Farm will still be a Traveller site [1].

Basildon council’s senseless eviction plans have hit a quagmire. Millions of pounds are lost daily keeping police, bailiffs and diggers on hold. Those Travellers still under threat of eviction remain without viable alternative accommodation. An eviction continues to threaten to dramatically increase the number of homeless in the Basildon area, compounding the pressure on overwhelmed services.

Pursuing an eviction is now a no-win situation. A partial eviction remains a devastating outcome for families, as well as for already cash-strapped local services. Today the Travellers beseeched the Council to return to the negotiating table to find a settlement which does not destroy their community.

Kathleen McCarthy said “We have sent an email to Tony Ball. We said that the eviction is senseless and it can’t achieve anything. We need to find a way out of this that isn’t going to break our people up, tear this community apart, and break the bank at Basildon Council at the same time. We know there is a better way. The Council needs to recognise this isn’t going anywhere. It’s just breaking all our hearts and nobody is winning anything. The right thing to do is negotiate. The Council needs to step down on this.”

The Travellers have consistently urged Basildon Council to return to the negotiating table, with remarkable and high-profile national and international support. Bishops Thomas McMahon and Stephen Cottrell have offered to mediate a resumed negotiation. [2] The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Navanethem Pillay, similarly wrote to William Hague to offer mediation by Jan Jarab, UN Regional Representative, and pressed for negotiation to restart in earnest [3]. Local MEP Richard Howitt has also publicly offered to mediate. [4] The All Party Parliamentary Group on Gypsies and Travellers wrote to Basildon Council last week, with a copy of the letter delivered to No. 10 by the Chair, Andrew George MP, calling for a suspension of the eviction and a return to negotiation. [5] 35 international experts on housing rights and forced evictions attending the UN Habitat Expert Meeting on Forced Evictions, in Nairobi, Kenya released a statement expressing their solidarity with the residents and deep regret at the planned evictions [6]. The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) has confirmed that it would continue to offer ‘land and investment’ to resettle Dale Farm residents – but that it could only find a solution with the help of Basildon Council. The HCA said it owned ‘extensive’ land within the Basildon district and that its offer of help remained on the table if the council wished to continue negotiations [7].

The leader of Basildon Council’s Labour Group, joined Liberal Democrat Councillor Geoff Williams’ call for an alternative approach [8]. Councillor Lynda Gordon referred to a return to negotiation as the “common sense approach” and said “I’m happy for my name to be associated with it.” [9]

Kate O’Shea of Dale Farm Solidarity said; “We have called and called on Tony Ball to return to the negotiation table. The situation at Dale Farm needs a sensible and common-sense approach and we urge all parties to find an amicable solution. The UN and two local bishops have offered to mediate any talks should this be required, and we urge Tony Ball to accept their offer.”

A negotiation team of residents and supporters is poised ready to resume talks.

[1] The largest plot at Dale Farm, Dale Farm house will remain as it has planning permission. The fences, walls and walkways will remain, and half of Dale Farm already had planning permission.  The top third of Dale Farm cannot be dug up.

[2] Bishops speak out on Dale Farm evictions http://dioceseofbrentwood.net/news/ViewPost.aspx?ID=548

[3] Guardian – evicted Travellers will be forced to leave the area http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/sep/19/dale-farm-evictions-un-negotiation

[4] Basildon Recorder – Dale Farm Travellers: our fight is not yet over http://www.basildonrecorder.co.uk/news/echo/9260129.Dale_Farm_travellers__Our_fight_is_not_over/

[5] BBC – Group of MPs call for eviction suspension http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-essex-14932040

[6] Statement from 35 international experts on housing rights and forced evictions attending the UN Habitat Expert Meeting on Forced Evictions, in Nairobi, Kenya https://dalefarm.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/statement-dalefarm.pdf

[7] http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/general/news/stories/2011/sep11/220911/220911_6

[8] https://dalefarm.wordpress.com/page/2/

[9] Email from Councillor Lynda Gordon (available on request).

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5 Responses to Dale Farm eviction now untenable

  1. How cruel can humans be — yet we are meant to be a civilised country – Yes laws have to be obeyed for Murder , theft etc etc — how my heart and eyes cannot see — LIVING ON DALE ARM THE CRIME OF THE CENTURY — Does living in a caravan slaving as the woman do – to keep their simple homes shiny bright — yet we want to tear up Dale arm – snuff out the light – isnt right – isnt right……….. The middle classes with their camper vans who travel this green and pleasant land – are ok – hey – hey – are they moved on? i dont think so —- or the campers who pitch a tent — why are the Tory classes hell bent – hell sent – to get a thrill watching a mass o bailiffs getting tough acting rough — ah the solution to the traveller pollution a ha — we enslaved the blacks – now we want to “sent em back”, we took over India with out shame – Gandhi knew the brits game. We built concentration camps in the boer war — dont believe? watch the “making of modern Britain”, by Andrew Marr. 60 thousand dutch woman and children we did starve… Then we raided Irish shores – the potato famine killed two million humans and a country was torn apart – this was done by the British Heart. on and on we go never learn by our mistakes, the trashing of communities we hate???? YET YOU STIFF UPPER LIPPED MEN AND YOUR BALL – IFFS, WHO ARE PAID PLENTY – TO SMASH COMMUNITIES – LETS BE SOUND – WHAT YOU TO TO OTHERS – COMES AROUND — “look on you tube — Chelmsford Traveller evictions 2004 – I DARE YOU.

  2. Still hoping and praying that this can be resolved peacefully. As this article clearly states the evictions are a no-win situation for anybody including the council. They need to swallow their pride & return to the negotiating table.

  3. Demo Cracy says:

    What has struck me about Dale Farm from the beginning is the clear injustice of evicting people from the their homes. The Bishop of Chelmsford expressed this well: ‘If evicting children is the answer then we must be asking the wrong question.’
    Above all, I believe that the truth of this injustice has been the strongest defence that the families at Dale Farm have. It is stronger than the highest of barricades, more enduring than the most well built lock on, it is a truth that can never be denied of obfuscated. I pray that the families continue to stand dignified holding the truth as their shield.

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