Travellers at the largest “illegal” encampment in Europe lost their last battle in the courts on 17 October and now face eviction.
On Tuesday 18th (as we go to press) Basildon Council confirmed that the eviction will begin on the 19th. Families must now rely on mobilising as many as possible and direct action if they are to resist the bailiffs.
The council is evicting 83 families from 49 plots on the site because they are in breach of planning law. The former scrapyard they own and live on does not have permission for residential use.
This is despite one half of the site, which the council ridiculously maintains is greenbelt land, having the relevant permission and being occupied by travellers.
Questioning where else they might live, the travellers say, “if not here then where — where better than a scrapyard?” Another site cleared by bailiffs in the Basildon area became a rubbish dump, rather than being used for homes.
Travellers and the council have been at odds for 10 years over the site.
The action being brought by the Tory-run Basildon Council, and backed up by the state through the courts and government funding towards the eviction, is tantamount to ethnic cleansing.
Travellers have said they will leave peacefully if alternative sites are found for them. Suggestions for alternatives have been made by the travellers. But they should not have to do this! The fact that no other sites have been deemed to be available demonstrates the lack of provision and highlights the effect of prejudice on gypsies and travellers.
Until recently planning guidelines stated that Basildon Council should provide land for 62 pitches, the vast majority of which could be accomplished by legalising the existing Dale Farm site. However, recent tearing up and re-writing of national planning policy has scrapped the need for regional targets for traveller pitches.
Socialists should not rely on financial arguments couched in an economic system that we seek to overturn. However, the fact that Basildon Council is spending £18 million on this eviction — not including legal fees and the cost of court-imposed delays — while simultaneously cutting jobs and services is particularly outrageous.
While workers lose their jobs, families, including young, sick and elderly people, are beng made homeless.
Please help now if you can!
Dale Farm resident Kathleen McCarthy said: “We’ve been left with no choice — we really have nowhere else to go; do you think we’d put ourselves through this if we did?
“The law is prejudiced against travellers — we were told 15 years ago to get off the road and buy our own land, but now they are forcing us and our kids out onto the road again.
“The barricades are all that stand between us and homelessness now.”
Lily Hayes, a Dale Farm supporter, said: “The law, planning regulations and the judicial system all discriminate against travellers.
“Engaging in civil disobedience is the reasonable response to this senseless eviction which is making 86 families homeless.
“We will stand side by side with the residents to resist this eviction.”
• More: dalefarm.wordpress.com