Today, supporters and residents from Dale Farm staged a protest at Basildon Council buildings calling on Tony Ball to resign. Two protesters, who had scaled the front of the building in order to display a banner reading “Tony Ball RESIGN” were detained by police. They are currently being questioned inside the Council building, but they have not been arrested. The two supporters who had unfurled the banner remained out of reach of police for nearly an hour. More than 50 people gathered around the banner. Ali Saunders, a spokesperson for Dale Farm Solidarity who was at the protest, said “It’s becoming clear that this eviction is a lost cause- Dale Farm has got to stay, Tony Ball has got to go”
Mary Sheridan, a Dale Farm resident, said: “Instead of wasting money on destroying a community, Tony Ball should be putting money into Basildon and supporting local people. This shouldn’t be about Travellers, but about what’s good for Basildon”
She continued, “We are living in fear of the bailiffs. If Tony Ball had his way we’d be forcefully thrown out of our community with no place to go. Tony Ball is failing Travellers and the people of Basildon. We don’t want to be taking homes off others who need them and we don’t want to live at the side of the road.”
The action, involving Dale Farm Travellers and their supporters, aims to highlight the huge expense of the council’s attempted eviction for both Traveller families and the wider Basildon community.
At a time of severe spending cuts, Tony Ball is prepared to spend £18 million of taxpayers’ money on evicting 90 families from Dale Farm. With the legality of the eviction called into question last Monday and subsequent ongoing court proceedings, the attempted eviction is costing £1.2 million per day.
The Dale Farm community and their supporters are calling on Ball to resign and for the Council to re-enter negotiations in order to fulfil their obligation to provide Travellers with an appropriate alternative site on which to live.
A Dale Farm supporter, Ali Saunders, stated, ‘It’s clear that Tony Ball’s position is becoming untenable and it’s only going to get worse – it’s time for him to go. He has brought the Council into disrepute by pulling out of a legitimate process of negotiation too early and wasting millions of pounds of public money. It’s time to get back around the negotiating table and seek a real solution.