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The families facing eviction at the Dale Farm travellers’ site near Basildon in Essex have been granted a legal injunction (until Friday 22 September) preventing the council from entering the site to clear away caravans and the built structures — the homes of over 50 families.
This is the latest, and most critical stage, in a ten year battle between the travellers (who own the land) and the council who refused permission to the residents to develop the land.
Basildon say that without planning permission the travellers are breaking the law and therefore must go. They have set their face against the facts that they are breaking up a community and stopping children from attending school, and that the travellers have no suitable alternative place to go. “Suitable” in this case means somewhere where they can live in a community, according to centuries old established ways of life.
Basildon say they want to “return” the land (a very small plot of land surrounded by acres and acres of fields and woods) to the green belt. But before the travellers took over the site it was a scrapyard. It was not a “green” field or a wood!
Travellers are systematically discriminated against – in planning laws, in education and health services — in the UK. The discrimination and violence they face in continental Europe is even worse.
Basildon council is guilty of racial discrimination, a fact recognised by everyone from the UN to Amnesty International to the local Labour MEP Richard Howitt (everyone, that is, apart from Ed Miliband).
As we go to press the Dale Farm residents have just a short time to resist and regroup. They need our help and solidarity.