On 20 September, around 50 supporters of the Traveller Solidarity Network gathered in Toynbee Hall in East London to launch a new campaign, Fight For Sites.
The Traveller Solidarity Network sprang up out of the battle to stop the brutal eviction of Traveller families from the Dale Farm site in Essex following a long campaign by the Tory council, supported by a racist local press and a groundswell of anti-Traveller bigotry.
The meeting heard speeches from outside supporters of the anti-eviction campaign, and also from members of the Traveller community, including a speaker from the Irish Traveller Movement in Britain.
A severe shortfall of sites in the UK limits access to public services, including education and healthcare, and exposes communities to harassment from rightwing local residents, local councils, bailiffs and the police. Every day families are moved on or evicted, often from land that they own. In England there is a shortage of over 4,000 individual caravan pitches, and thus an increased pressure for Travellers to move into bricks and mortar housing against their will and with negative effects on health, wellbeing and community [EHRC, 2010]. The Coalition government’s Localism Act has made the situation worse – abolishing previous targets for caravan site provision whilst strengthening eviction and police move-on powers.
The Fight For Sites campaign will fight against racist anti-Traveller agitation, target companies that profit from evictions and land developers who fuel evictions by buying up land – and it will lobby local councils and campaign against the Localism Act and Eric Pickles’s centralised anti-Traveller drive.
The campaign will begin with a demonstration meeting at Victoria train station in London at 1pm on 19 October, the anniversary of the Dale Farm eviction.
More info: travellersolidarity.org
07984 126 326