Dale Farm Families return as planning inquiry opens

Undeterred by last month’s brutal clearance, many families are returning to Dale Farm for Christmas.

In response Tory council leader Tony Ball is threatening to have them committed to prison for contempt of court if they breach an injunction preventing re-occupation.

They have nowhere to go,” says Patrick Egan, owner of Dale Farm House, who is presently giving refuge to 5 caravans on his property. “If forced off here they’ll have to move onto car parks. We’re not leaving Basildon.”

Next week, however, Travellers are meeting head on Ball’s challenge to seek planning permission before occupying another location. A public inquiry opens on Tuesday (22 Nov) into Dale Farm Housing Association’s bid to open a mobile-home park on nearby land for all those made homeless.

The land at Church Road, Laindon, was originally offered by the HCA, a government quango, to Basildon council to help it meet its duty to provide 62 new plots for homeless Travellers in ther district. It refused the offer.

Under the new plan, Basildon could be required to facilitate the release of funds by the HCA for the development. This envisages 12 permanent and 60 temporary plots, which would be made ready as soon as possible for those left without homes at Dale Farm since the eviction.

Meanwhile, costs arising out of the direct action operation continue to multipy. Residents are mounting numerous claims for injuries and damage to property, which may add further millions to the original 18m bill for the police-led assault and clearance, which now appears to have been entirely futile.

Residents are urging supporters to attend the Inquiry which opens at 10 am on Tuesday (22 Nov) at the Basildon Centre, St Martins Square, Basildon SS14 1DL

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Council failures cause serious injuries at Dale Farm

Two of the remaining residents at Dale Farm have been seriously injured. One resident fell down a six-foot trench and became trapped for an hour before going to hospital. Another suffered a broken leg after a path gave way. The injuries come as complaints have continued to mount over the cutting of electricity, streetlights and other amenities to legal plots.

Residents and their supporters will be consulting their solicitors on Monday to assess possible breaches of UK legislation by Basildon Council and will report the incidents to the Health and Safety Executive.

Nora Flynn was walking on the pathway to get some diesel for the generator so she could wash her children’s clothes. The pathway gave way underneath her. Paramedics struggled to rescue her because the roads accessing the site have been dug up. She was admitted to hospital for neck and back injuries and continues to be in serious pain.

Michelle Sheridan, Nora’s sister, said”It’s like something you see on the TV news from a third world country. My children don’t eat and they don’t sleep. The bailiffs have ignored the courts. The council said they wouldn’t dig up the roads and they did. Basildon Council have left us in hell on earth.”

Patrick Egan, whose house has planning permission at the site, fell down a trench breaking his leg while checking the damage to his property which has cracked walls, no electricity and a broken septic tank. Mr Egan’s house has never been the subject of enforcement by the council yet is has still been badly damaged. Mr Egan said: “My work is in disarray. I now can’t work.”

Ali Stephens of the Travellers Support Network, said, “Basildon Council’s £18 million pound plan for the site does not appear to include any health and safety concerns for the remaining residents. Why are excavations not fenced off and lit at night? Why is there not a safe distance between ongoing work on the site and peoples’ homes and access to them? Is Basildon Council biased against travellers, or is it just plain negligence?”

He continued, “Life for the remaining residents of Dale Farm is bleak. Their formerly vibrant community has been turned into apocalyptic scenes of rubble, broken pipes, rubbish and stinking raw sewage. It’s shocking.” Both injured residents are available for interview.

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Traveller Solidarity Meeting; 11am, Saturday 5th November in Whitechapel

The Traveller Solidarity Movement after Dale Farm: Where Next?

A meeting of debate and strategy.

11am Saturday 5th November

3rd Floor Cityside House, 40 Adler St, London E1 1EE.
Near Aldgate East and Whitechapel tube st. (District Line, Hammersmith & City)
Buses: 205 (from Paddington), 15, 25, 67, 115, 135, 205, 254, D3.

To attend you need to RSVP– email savedalefarm@gmail.com

To sign up to email list ; https://lists.aktivix.org/mailman/listinfo/tsn


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Fears Mount of Dale Farm like Eviction at St Paul’s

Fears Mount of Dale Farm like Eviction at St Paul’s

Councillor Brian Mooney today echoed Canon Giles Fraser’s concerns that police will attempt to clear Occupy London protesters at St Paul’s using the same violent tactics that were used against travellers and their supporters at Dale Farm.[1]

Riot Police waded into Dale Farm firing tasers, and used batons, shields and fists to take control of the site.

 

Resident Nora Egan was baton charged and was taken to hospital twice with spinal injuries. Bailiffs later smashed their way into her chalet while she was inside. Two supporters were hit with tasers, one in the back, and another was taken to hospital after brutal treatment from Police when they removed him from the scaffolding tower. Residents of Dale Farm were severely traumatised by the level of violence and intimidation they witnessed form the Police.

Ali Saunders of Dale Farm Solidarity said:

“The eviction at Dale Farm show that Canon Giles Fraser is right to fear police brutality against the Occupy London camp. Travellers are constantly in fear of violence from the State. As the economic crisis spirals out of government control, anyone whose actions or way of life challenges the way our capitalist society is organised can become a target for this kind of brutality.”

Dale Farm resident Kathleen McCarthy said:

“I went to St Paul’s and they were good people. I don’t want to see them go through the violence shown to us at Dale Farm. I pray they all stay safe.”

Dale Farm residents who have moved temporarily to friends plots on the legal side of Dale Farm are now being threatened with imminent eviction.

Ali Saunders of Dale Farm Solidarity added:

“They are desperate and have no where to go. Why else would they be there living there among the shattered wrecks of their homes, clinging onto what is left of their community and children’s future.”

 

 

Notes to the Editor

 

[1] Brian Mooney warned that the situation could turn into a “Dale Farm-like eviction” in the Guardian saying “There is now a serious danger it will go all the way through and end up with a Dale Farm-like eviction. It’s a long way down the line but… at some stage bailiffs are brought in and police are rigged up in gear and then there is an unpleasant eviction on the steps of St Paul’s and the heart of the City.” ”:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/oct/28/st-pauls-lawyers-activist-camp

 

Canon Giles Fraser expressed similar concerns in resigning from the Cathedral on Thursday 27 October saying “I could not countenance the idea that we would have the sort of scenes we had at Dale Farm done in the name of the church on the steps of St Paul’s.”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/oct/27/giles-fraser-occupy-london-st-pauls?intcmp=239

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Legal observers still urgently needed!

The eviction is still ongoing and we still need legal observers – they are the main support Dale Farm residents have right now. We expect the clearance operation to continue for two to three weeks and we are understaffed this weekend (29/30 October). Bailiffs are damaging property and remaining residents feel intimidated.

If you can help please fill out the extended doodle poll at http://doodle.com/8tcurvsevcx4zhmt

Before you go, ring 07928632302, or if that doesn’t work, 07583621312, to check the situation.

Finally, a reminder that as a legal observer you absolutely can’t participate in direct action, and you need to have been trained (though if you haven’t done it before hopefully there’ll be more experienced LOs to pair you up with!). Legal observers were under threat of being barred from site yesterday and we need to make sure we maintain our credibility

Things to bring:

  • camera/video camera
  • spare batteries
  • notebook
  • 2-3 pens
  • torch and batteries
  • Spare toothbrushes & toothpaste
  • If possible, hard hat & Hi-Viz jacket
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News Bulletin

– Legal Observers Needed
– Youth Worker Needed
– 5th of November Meeting
– Residents Address Dale Farm Supporters
– Court Support Needed
– Donations Needed

Legal Observers Needed

The eviction continues, with concrete being dug up, the local chapel being demolished, & chalets removed or destroyed. However, the site is largely calm, and legal monitoring and supporting should be an entirely non-arrestable and safe role. We still need legal monitors this week to ensure that the area is liveable for those residents who will be allowed back. We have enough for today, but more are needed tomorrow and onwards. Residents are also really encouraging supporters and witnesses to come down as this is an indescribably difficult time for those who have remained.
Please contact dalefarmbackoffice@riseup.net or 07583621312 [note number change] to get info about legal monitoring or supporting, and to say when you can come up. We need to co-ordinate the monitoring, so please do get in touch before you go.

Youth Worker Needed
Half term has started which means that the children of Dale Farm will not be able to escape the brutality of this eviction by going to school. Volunteers have taken upon themselves to keep the children busy but are running out of idea’s. We are currently looking for persons who have experience in youth work who could go down to Dale Farm and/or provide assistance to the persons who are already working with the children. Please reply to savedalefarm@ [at] gmail.com for contacts.

5th of November Meeting
The ongoing Dale Farm eviction does not mean that we as a Travellers solidarity movement have failed. This is only the beginning as the struggle of Travellers all over Britain continues with multiple communities under the threat of eviction. There will be a meeting of in-depth debate and discussion on the 5th of November 11 am at Cityside House, 40 Adler St, London E1 1EE. Please disseminate this meeting widely and rsvp to savedalefarm [at] gmail.com to attend.

Residents address Dale Farm Supporters
During the Dale Farm meeting at the London Anarchist Book Fair Dale Farm residents addressed hundreds of assembled supporters. We are planning on maintaining links with residents through the Traveller Solidarity Network. You can listen to the audioclip on http://wp.me/p10C4W-kh

Court Support Needed
During the eviction many supporters were arrested on various charges. Some of those supporters have their bail day this week and support would be greatly appreciated. Please contact dalefarmbackoffice [at] riseup.net for more info.

Donations Needed
As ever, we are in desperate need of funds to cover our costs. Please donate at dalefarm.wordpress.com/donate: organise a fundraiser, ask your friends and family, run a marathon: whatever you can do, do it.

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Dale Farm residents address supporters

One thing about solidarity with Dale Farm residents — it was always easy to know why we were there. Just listen to two of the residents who addressed a gathering of several hundred supporters. One resident, a member of the media team, and Kathleen McCarthy, spokesperson for Dale Farm residents, spoke to us by phone — even in the face of loosing their community, they are so generous, optimistic and inspiring.

One resident breaks into tears as she talks about her parent’s chalet being demolished

“When yea came to Dale Farm you came just to support the cause, because you knew it was wrong. But we feel in love with each and every one of you. We did, we feel in love with yea. The best thing about Dale Farm which I’ll take away with me, was meeting all of yea, and that’s from my heart. Me and my mum had a conversation, and she went back to our great ancestors, and no body has ever stood up in history for Travelling people. And Dale Farm comes along, and we had people, really good settled people that stood up for us. And that my mum said, made history. She said ‘You’ve lost your homes, but it made history.'”

Kathleen thanks her supporters.

“It was an experience I will never forget, to watch what happened to you, and you were so lovable. I’ll never forget that, and my people will never forget that.”

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Legal Observers Urgently Needed

Dear all,
The eviction continues, with concrete being dug up, the local chapel being demolished, & chalets removed or destroyed.  However, the site is largely calm, and legal monitoring and supporting should be an entirely non-arrestable and safe role. We still need legal monitors this week to ensure that the area is livable for those residents who will be allowed back.  We have enough for today, but more are needed tomorrow and onwards. Residents are also really encouraging supporters and witnesses to come down as this is an indescribably difficult time for those who have remained. Independent media can also take video and photos for the legal observing team, and to get images out to the world.

Please contact dalefarmbackoffice [at] riseup.net or 07583621312 [note number change] to get info about legal monitoring or supporting, and to say when you can come up. We need to co-ordinate the monitoring, so please do get in touch before you go.
Also, if you witnessed arrests, property damage or assaults during the eviction, please get in touch with dalefarmbackoffice [at] riseup.net to submit witness statements.
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Demolition of Dale Farm set to ramp up today

A 48 hours notice is set to expire today, giving bailiffs at Dale Farm free rein as they continue their destruction of the community.

Resident Mary Sheridan, who is temporarily staying with family on the legal half of the Crays Hill settlement, said “It’s finally hitting us, we’re seeing our homes destroyed.  I just saw my cousin’s house broken apart.  Now we have to pick up and find somewhere to go.”

The media have been unable to witness this due to Basildon Council’s media blackout. Journalists have been questioning the Council’s refusal to let press on site.

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Basildon Council enforce media ‘blackout’ as Bailiffs break the law.

Basildon council have prevented media from accessing Dale Farm until Monday at the earliest, as it emerged today that Bailiffs were breaking the law. Constant & Co. Bailiffs have begun removing fences and walls in breach of a court order requiring them to give 48 hours notice before work can commence. Notices were given to residents on Friday morning and are scheduled to expire at 9am on Sunday.

One women, recovering on a legal plot after a fractured spine obtained from police heavy-handedness, was intimidated out of her home as bailiffs began illegally demolishing her fences and walls. Bailiffs also broke the windows of her chalet [photo below].

Window of a resident's chalet. This same resident had received serious spinal injuries as a result of a police assault on Wednesday.

Mary Sheridan, a resident, described the tactics as “disgraceful. We always knew the Bailiffs would breach their court orders, they always do. But I can’t believe Basildon council could be so obviously trying to cover-up their demolition of our homes from the world.”

Yesterday Bailiffs attempted to move trailers from three families’ plots despite
confirmation at the High Court by Justice Edwards-Stuart on 4 Oct that these plots could not be evicted and that families had a legal right to stay. Barrister Marc Willers was forced to intervene, reminding the Council that any action on these plots would place them in contempt of court.

The imposition of media blackout today follows Basildon council’s ‘forcible eviction’ of local MEP Richard Howitt from the press enclosure last Wednesday [1]. Howitt is an outspoken critic of the forced eviction.

Supporter Ali Saunders said, “the council’s attempt at a cover-up is evidence of their embarrassment. This brutal eviction has left families with nowhere to go and will fall upon the conscience of all of the British people”.

[1] http://www.harlowstar.co.uk/News/East-of-England-MEP-Howitt-bundled-off-Dale-Farm-travelller-site-20102011.htm

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