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Dale Farm: Second Eviction Threat

Grattan Puxon | 31.01.2012 06:31 | Dale Farm | Anti-racism | Social Struggles | Cambridge | World

Following clearance from their own land
last October, families on the Dale Farm
estate have now been warned they could
face imprisonment for contempt of court
if they continue to live within the eviction


Travellers cleared from their land at Dale Farm have been given until this week
to leave the roadside or face the possibility of imprisonment for contempt of court.

Basildon's chief enforcment officer Neil Costen served notice yesterday (27 Jan) in the presence of police officers on caravans parked along part of Oak Lane telling families to move within 48 hours.

"You understand the consequences," Costen told Grattan Puxon, secretary of the Dale Farm Residents Association. "Those parked here are in breach of an injunction and action will be taken if you are still on this road Monday morning."

Puxon pointed out that the families involved are waiting to move onto legal properties closeby. However, they are momentarily prevented from doing so by a trench dug along the road by council contractors restoring electric cables broken during the eviction.

He has asked for legal observers to be present when council officials and police return on Monday morning.

According to written instructions issued to Constant & Co bailiffs for the clearance, three properties have no enforcement orders against them preventing residential use. After removal of hardstanding caravans were to be resited.

"We're still waiting to be resited and its three months later," said one mother. "Now they are evicting us again off this road."

Basildon Borough Council obtained its injunction on 7 November last, after the major clearance operation which commenced on 19 October. Riot police, some using Taser
stun-guns, violently suppressed resistance by Travellers and supporters at the start of the eviction, which is believed to have cost £10 million. There were 39 arrests.

Leader of Basildon council Tony Ball has confirmed action will be taken against caravans on Oak Lane next week. Proceedings will also be taken against owners of licensed plots now habouring families displaced by the original eviction.

It has been reported the council has a £1.8 million fund with which to continue its policy of removing all "unauthorsed" Travellers from the district. Few have left so far.

Meanwhile, DFRA is submitting a new planning application in respect of ten properties which formed part of the old licensed scrap-yard at Dale Farm. The hardstanding there, unlike that on some 40 other plots, has not been dug up.

The association says these plots, together with five more still legal for residential use, could accommodate all the families presently on Oak Lane, and most of those who have taken refuge on older licensed plots.

A survey carried out yesterday by volunteers from the Traveller Solidarity Network indicates that sickness among the evicted families has risen alarmingly. Sixty report being left without sanitation and clean water, and seventy are without eletricity.

Twenty-three cases of chickpox were noted, together with 42 cases of dysentery, and 236 cases of diarrhoea and other stomach illnesses. Nearly 120 adults and children have suffered flu in recent weeks.

The survey, data from which is going to UN and EU agencies, also found that there have been more than 20 incidents of personal injury mostly due to lack of estate street lighting (destroyed by contractors) and wide-spread trenching and bunding. Trenches and pits are now filling with foul water.

In addition to a number of personal injury claims, the council faces allegations that it has caused environmental damage and a threat to public health. It could be compelled under the 2009 Environmental Damage Regulations to take steps to repair this damage, including pumping out of flood water and removal debris-filled bunding.

The bunding plan, revealed on 19 December, stated bunds would be top-dressed with soil to give them an acceptable appearance. However, similar bunding carried out after evictions at nearby Hovefields Avenue has been left undressed and unsightly for several years.

Grattan Puxon
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