The Battle For Dale Farm: Racism, Green Belt Snobs, The UN, Human Right And Vanessa Bloody Redgrave
THE residents of Dale Farm, Crays Hill, Essex, will have to leave the country’s largest unauthorised traveller site. The travellers, Pavees, had applied for a temporary injunction to stop Basildon Borough Council evicting the families from Dale Farm in Essex from midnight. The case hinged on the circumstances of 72-year-old Mary Flynn who suffers breathing problems and uses an electric nebuliser. Given how the country treats its ill and old, this was a flawed ploy.
The bailiffs are coming. The travellers promise a “bloody and violent” fight.
The travellers own the land. But the council says a large chunk of the six-acre Dale Farm has been developed without planning permission. They have applied for approval. But they never get it.
Says resident Mary O’Brien to the Sun:
“If they come in with bulldozers we will put up a fight. We are part of the community and we do no harm but there is a small element which is determined to see the back of us. Why should we just stand by and see our homes destroyed? All this will do is move us 50 yards down the road and it will be a huge waste of public money. These are our homes – we are not going to go without a fight. It will be bloody and violent.”
Nora Sheridan, 40, told media:
“The bailiffs can bring body bags. If we lose today, that’s what’s going to happen.”
The government says, ‘You can’t travel.’ They move us on every day or two. And then they say, ‘You can’t stay,’” says Kathleen McCarthy, 48, who has been living at Dale Farm for a decade. “We can’t stay. We can’t go. So where in this society do travelers have right? Animals have more rights.”
Gypsies are lower than animals in the eyes of officialdom. For others Muslims and black are the low water line:
Jane Flynn, a mother of four, said: “Just yesterday a resident gave birth to a child. “Many of us have brought up our families here. We are Essex people and if a council was trying to do this to black or Muslim people there would be outrage.”
What says the council?
Tony Ball, leader of Basildon council, said they would do that only after giving the Travellers a starting date. “Direct action to clear Dale Farm is a last resort … and we take it reluctantly – but after almost 10 years of legal wrangling and exhausting the judicial process the Travellers have left us with absolutely no choice, they have broken the law, which we are duty bound to uphold. And this is what we believe the vast majority of local people expect us to do.”
The Morning Star spots some celebrity stardust:
Actor and human rights campaigner Vanessa Redgrave also visited the site and warned that “lives will be ruined” if the planned eviction goes ahead. “The whole situation is really about planning – there’s no crime that has been committed,” she said. “Evicting these families would be totally unreasonable and irresponsible. The council has said there are no alternatives but there are alternatives.” Basildon council said that Ms Redgrave’s visit changed nothing and negotiations were still ongoing to find a solution.
Says Redgrave, who also says she will live on the site – you know, like real people do:
“I have always supported the travellers . . . since I became conscious of what happened during Hitler’s rule. I’m not making comparisons. I’m just saying minorities were destroyed.”
Stuart Agnew, the UK Independence Party MEP for the East of England, offers:
He said: “I am increasingly astonished to hear religious leaders, politicians and now, even an actress, calling for the laws of the land to be set aside to accommodate the travellers who have illegally taken over the site at Dale Farm. We cannot have laws that are only enforced on parts of the community. The law should be for everybody. Do we really want to set the precedent that if people occupy land without planning permission and stay there long enough, they will be given retrospective permission to remain, in contravention of the law? I am sure that most residents in the Crays Hill area would support the enforcement of the law. I have had to follow strict planning regulations in putting buildings on my farm and I expect travellers to be subject to the same regulations. In my view, the rule of law must be respected. The alternative is anarchy.”
Brendan O’Neill sees a class war:
What crime have the Dale Farm gypsies committed? I mean, aside from living the kind of lifestyles that make red-top journalists see red, aside from being swaggering and foul-mouthed, what actual law have they broken?They have dared to build homes on the Green Belt. They have had the temerity to deflower that sacred belt of land beloved of posh people, which is not meant for oiks, and certainly not for Irish oiks. The Dale Farm residents haven’t stolen any land (they actually own it), nor have they built their homes with stolen materials. Their offence, for which they will not soon be forgiven, is that they have stuck two, probably nicotine-stained fingers up at the eco-snobbish institution that is the Green Belt.
The Daily Mail sees trouble – glorious trouble:
About 50 anarchists have already joined the 1,000 travellers at Dale Farm and many more are expected over the coming days, say police sources.
The Mail might be a tad biased. One article is headlined:
TOM RAWSTORNE reports on the traveller site that has made life a misery for one Essex village for ten years
Strung between the two scaffold towers that guard the entrance to Europe’s largest illegal traveller site, a banner flaps in the breeze. In 2ft-high lettering, it spells out a simple message: ‘We won’t go.’ Pass beneath it, negotiating the barricade of car tyres, and enter this sprawling, litter-strewn shanty town on the edge of the Essex village of Crays Hill and it is a statement re-iterated at every turn.
Snotty Rawstorne does give us a potted history of the site:
In the early Nineties, this legal site grew further until there were 37 plots. At the time there was harmony between the village and the gypsies — but that changed dramatically a decade ago. It was then that Irish travellers, led by a family known as the Sheridans, started to buy the legal plots for up to £50,000 each. Having secured a foothold, one of their number, John Sheridan, paid £120,000 for a bungalow and land to the east of the legal site. The land had been used — illegally — as a scrapyard, but remained as Green Belt and should have enjoyed the strongest legal protection from development.
Instead, the land was illegally divided into plots, with hardcore and Tarmac laid down. The illegal occupation had begun.
And then this:
Plans to evict people living illegally at England’s largest travellers’ site may breach human rights law, a United Nations expert has warned. Basildon Council has given the 200 people living on 51 unauthorised pitches at Dale Farm, Essex, until the end of August to leave. The UN’s Raquel Rolnik has now called on the UK government to find a peaceful solution to the matter.