Struggle against eviction of Dale Farm travellers goes on

By staff writers
14 Oct 2011

Some 86 Irish Traveller families at Dale Farm in Essex still face forced eviction following legal notice from Basildon Council, after ten years of wrangling over the site.

On 14 October solicitors for the residents at Dale Farm were granted a hearing at the High Court on Monday 17th to apply for permission to appeal.

Residents are appealing against the decision of Mr Justice Ouseley on Wednesday 11 October, which gave permission for Basildon Council to evict Dale Farm. The appeal will be heard before Lord Justice Sullivan in Court 69 at 11am.

If the eviction goes ahead, families will be left without adequate alternative housing, and without access to essential services such as schooling and continuous medical treatment for residents with serious illnesses. In many cases, Dale Farm residents fear they will be left homeless.

Kathleen MacCarthy of Dale Farm explained: “It’s illegal for us to live by the roadside and it’s illegal for us to live in our homes at Dale Farm. The government and the council are leaving us no legal means of continuing our way of life. We are tired of being made criminals by an unjust system that discriminates against us.”

Critics, including Amnesty International, say Basildon Council has not engaged in genuine consultation consistent with international human rights standards on options for alternative culturally adequate housing for those affected.

In September, a High Court judge extended an injunction preventing the council from going ahead with the planned eviction. But the local authority appears determined to throw out the Travellers.

The cost to taxpayers is estimated to be over £18 million to evict 400 Dale Farm residents, most of whom have nowhere else to go.

Children have been settled in local schools for over a decade and this eviction will mean that their education is severely disrupted.

The families at Dale Farm have been victims of racist abuse, and antagonistic misrepresentation of the issues involved in their case by sections of the tabloid media.

Penny Kemp, environment spokesperson for the Green Party in England and Wales, says that "common sense should prevail."

Ms Kemp said this week: "This site is owned by the Travellers, planning permission has been granted for half the site and the other half, home to more than 400 people does not have the requisite planning permission. As the residents have said that they are prepared to move to an alternative site, and there is another site in the wings, I cannot understand the problem.”

She added: ”The Government and Local Authorities have a duty to respect and facilitate the gypsy and traveller way of life, and to improve the well-being of children. It would appear that this is not the case at Dale Farm."

"While the Green Party believes that the planning system is the correct mechanism to determine planning issues and we are contributing to the Government's planning reform consultation paper, we feel in the case of Dale Farm, a more sensitive approach would be helpful especially as there are potential alternative sites in the area," declared Ms Kemp.

Ali Saunders of Dale Farm Solidarity said: “As the legal avenues for stopping this senseless eviction become exhausted, it becomes more and more important for people to show their support for the residents by coming to Dale Farm.”

A statement by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on 2 September 2011 called on UK authorities to halt the eviction, “provide alternative culturally appropriate accommodation” prior to any eviction, and to comply with international and regional human rights norms.

* Amnesty urgent action: http://tinyurl.com/6glo3qn

* Dale Farm Solidarity: http://dalefarm.wordpress.com/

* Dale Farm on Twitter: @letdalefarmlive

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