On 4 July 2011, some 90 families at Dale Farm, the UK's largest Traveller community, were hand-delivered a final notice of eviction giving families until midnight on 31 August to abandon their homes, or face their entire community being bulldozed. The central government and Basildon Council have set aside over £18m for the eviction battle that could last three weeks. It will be the biggest clearance of its kind, involving the ploughing up of 54 separate plots created on a former scrap-yard purchased by the Travellers ten years ago.
Urgent Call-out for Support: Supporters are urgently needed to help the community resist the eviction. Come to the camp for one of the activity weekends any Saturday between now and the end of August, and join Camp Constant from 27 August.
On the newswires: Solidarity Bulletin 4 August | Colchester Council Hates Gypsies | Solidarity Bulletin 27 July | Dale Farm Info Night, 2 Aug, Bristol | Resist Ethnic Cleansing | Eviction notice served | Previous feature
Elsewhere: Dale Farm Travellers | The University of Esssex Human Rights Clinic | Susan Craig-Green, Advocacy Project
In the run-up to 1 September, Dale Farm is holding activity weekends for supporters. Starting 11am every Saturday, the weekends include:
- Introductions and discussions with Dale Farm residents
- Helping build obstacles to make eviction more difficult
- Legal observer & human rights training
- Media training, including photography, film making, reportage
- Peaceful resistance and non-violent civil disobedience workshops
A mass gathering of national and international supporters of the Dale Farm community will begin Saturday 27 August. To receive email bulletins, sign up here.
From 27 to 29 August there will be a weekend of Traveller history and celebration, practical eviction resistance training, training for legal observers and human rights monitors, and an opening party on Saturday night. Sleeping space is available in caravans or you can bring a tent.
From midnight on 31 August an eviction could happen at any time, possibly without warning. As well as those who will be staying at Dale Farm to provide around the clock support to the community and eviction resistance, as many people as possible are needed to be on standby to come up to Dale Farm at short notice in the event of an eviction. Groups and individuals can pledge to stay overnight. See the Dale Farm website for details.
Directions to Dale Farm
Dale Farm is about 40 minutes from London by train. Directions and maps can be found here. From Wickford Station, it's a 15 minute cycle/45 minute walk to Dale Farm. To arrange a lift, email Dale Farm or call 07757 533380. A cab will cost under £10.
Dale Farm residents live on land they own. They bought the land legally. Arbitrary changes in regulation have been used by national governments and local councils to systematically restrict and remove Traveller communities, serving to promote local racism and intolerance.
This has nothing to do with Greenbelt land. The council argues that it is a critical issue is that the land is ‘Greenbelt land’. This technicality is essential to protect the council from the accusation of racist persecution. But be in no doubt: the council used this land as a brown field site before the Travellers lived here. Far from beautiful green fields, this land was a concreted scrap yard when it was sold to the residents of Dale Farm. The council has failed to honestly acknowledge the prior use of the land in its cynical arguments.
This is not about ‘upholding the law’. The council says ‘everyone must be treated the same’, but Travellers are not treated the same: 95% of Travellers’ requests for permission to build are turned down by council planners across the UK. Councils do not act to protect the rights of Traveller communities to live in peace, although it is their duty to do so. Basildon Council has made it clear they want to break up the community and reduce the numbers of Travellers in the area. Refusing permission to build and evicting the settled Traveller community from Dale Farm is a targeted campaign of persecution.
Dale Farm residents have offered to leave peacefully, so long as families are not broken up. They have worked hard with local supporters, solicitors, and architects to find alternative plots of empty, non-Greenbelt, land which they would be willing to peacefully move on to, to avoid brutal and expensive evictions at Dale Farm. The council has refused to consider or accept these alternatives, seeking only to evict and remove. As a consequence every planned eviction will cause homelessness and devastation to families and to the community.
The council and government intend together to spend £18 Million – despite national and local cuts to services, they are targeting precious budgetary resources on a senseless campaign of destruction. Taking away homes and leaving people homeless, removing children from their local schools, leaving the sick and elderly and many children on the roadside.