Dale-Farm Clearances

msbrown at boltblue.net msbrown at boltblue.net
Sun Dec 15 12:03:27 GMT 2002

For report on this and other recent wave of enforcement evictions of travellers 
(eg. woodside), see the latest issue of Chapter-7 News (available via annual 
subscription. tel. 01460 249204 evenings)

Grattan Puxon writes: 


Basildon Tory MP John Barron has outlined plans for a Private Members Bill that 
would stop amenity companies supplying water and electrcity to "illegal" 
Traveller settlements. 

"This has got nothing to do with racism," he told a public meeting at Noak 
Bridge on Saturday (7 Dec). "All I say is if they want to come into 
our community they must obey the law." 

But it soon became obvious that this was a thin veneer. Dale Farm residents who 
have legalized their plots learned from a Basildon District 
Council spokesman that their planning successes will be challenged in the High 
Court and if necessary through a Judicial Review. 

"Would you dare treat Blacks this way?" asked Father Joe Browne, of the Irish 
Travellers Movement who was among a dozen supporters at the meeting. 
Again Barron denied any racial motivation. 

Charlie Smith, chairman of the Gypsy Council reminded those present that 
Gypsies had been encouraged by the Government to buy land and create their own 
caravan sites. Dale Farm was such an effort. Now a Tory MP, whose party had 
torn up the Caravan Sites Act, was bent on destroying any attempt at self-help. 

Spokesman for Dale Farm Patrick Egan said the area was zoned as "plotland". 
Thirty plots had already been authorized and the new plots were being built 
mostly on a former scrapyard, which had not been "greenbelt" for 35 years. 

"You are trying to turn the clock back by putting us all out," he said as 
Barron cut short further questions. "If you make us homeless you couldn't find 
the houses. You'd be better off leaving us where we are." 

"Cut off their water and electrcity!" someone in the hall shouted to ample 

Big private mobile-home park continues to grow:

Dale Farm, on the outskirts of Basildon, is the biggest "settlement" 
yet created by Travellers in their efforts to escape present-day 
conditions out on the open road. 

"We haven't come here because we want to," says spokesman Patrick 
Egan. "This has been forced us since travelling in the old way has more or 
less been criminalized." 

Over the past eighteen months, many Irish Travellers have purchased 
plots on Dale Farm, at Clays Hill. They have joined longer-established Gypsies 
some of whose plots have been passed for permanent residence. Not a few have 
build bungalows and brick walls, with elaborate gates. 

The enlargement of Dale Farm has come about through the closure and subdivision 
of a large scrap yard. New 95ftx45ft plots have been marked out and sold to 
Sheridans, McCarthies and related families desperate to get away from constant 

The population of this virtual village, which has tarmaced streets and a post 
code, now tops several hundred and continues to grow. The Essex Gypsy liaison 
officer has washed her hands of the issue, saying private 
sites do not come under her remit. 

Patrick Egan has attended "anti-Gypsy" public meetings and talked with the 
local MP. Thanks to his efforts, the new plots have electricity and water - but 
as yet no official refuge collection. Refugee men are tipped £5 
a plot to take garbage away. 

What most of Dale Farm needs is planning permission. Gypsy Council member 
Donald Kenrick has for months been assisting with initial applications. 
Refusals have come in fast and appeals against a bunch of enforcement 
notices are due to be heard in January. 

Meanwhile, Barry Clarke, among the longer-established residents, now faces a 
fine of £20,000 for living on his own land. 

An air of desperation hangs over Dale Farm as the community ways its chances. 
They will hang on in hopes of benefitting from the Traveller Law Reform Bill - 
or the upcoming Judicial Review on the accommodation of 
Travellers under the Housing Act. 

"We are thinking of registering as homeless," commented Patrick. "If only as a 
way of putting some press on the local council. Let us alone or provide an 
alternative - that's all we ask." 

Dale Farm will be the subject of a local planning inquiry on 8 January. There 
are some 90 caravans and mobile homes, of which 20 are on unauthorized plots. 

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