Around 300 travellers (mostly Roma gypsies) marched through London's West End on 9 April in protest at the mounting number of evictions from traveller sites. The march followed a church service remembering the victims of the porrajmos (the Holocaust), and of more recent ethnic cleansings and pogroms across Europe.
Many gypsies and travellers are being turfed off land which they own. Councils do this because, they say, travellers are flouting planning regulations. Yet many councils have made it very difficult for travellers to comply with planning regulations. Overall councils are not providing enough sites. An estimated additional 3-5,000 are needed. Not such a great number, yet councils, who since the last Tory government have had no obligation to provide sites, are not prepared to do it. Satisfying the needs of the travelling community is not a great vote winner. New Labour has no intention of restoring the statutory obligation on councils.
Meanwhile families get raided by police in the middle of the night. Children, old people, are all thrown out on the road. Remember, in many cases, people are being evicted from land they own. So much for a property-owning democracy.
Travellers are resisting. A Travellers’ Action Group has been set up. They are standing two candidates in the general election — Sheila Dunn against Michael Howard in Folkestone, and Richard Sheridan against John Baron the Tory MP for Billericay.
For details of action and support contact Grattan Puxon on 01206 523528.