Traveller camp drives away the bailiffs
Ecovillage Network UK
evnuk at gaia.org
Tue Jan 13 10:45:40 GMT 2004
Traveller camp drives away the bailiffs
Tuesday January 13, 2004
The bailiffs had arrived shortly after first light with orders to evict the
group of travellers from land they had been living on for the last three years.
But by yesterday afternoon, the officials had retreated, driven back by
burning barricades, trenches filled with flaming rubbish and a human chain
which refused to budge.
Day one of "the Battle of Bulkington" ended with the travellers claiming
victory over Nuneaton and Bedworth council, which insists they must move.
The travellers bought the plot of land in the north Warwickshire village of
Bulkington from a farmer almost three years ago, planning to turn it into a
model site complete with its own village green.
Around 20 families moved in but planning permission for a private
travellers' site was refused. Nevertheless, buildings, fences and roads
began to appear on the land, which is in the green belt.
More than a year ago the travellers argued their case in the high court.
Though they lost they still refused to give up their homes, prompting the
council to call in the bailiffs.
But when they arrived the travellers were ready. They set on fire two
caravans and an old van which they had parked at the entrance to the site.
They also torched rubbish piled into two metre-wide trenches which had been
dug around the site. Around 40 men formed a human chain outside the site.
A four-hour standoff, observed by 40 police officers and a number of
firefighters, followed before the bailiffs were called off.
The travellers' spokesman, John Lee, said: "I think we can claim a victory.
There is no way we were letting them in. If they had got past us on the
gate, they would have been confronted by the women and children. All we
want is to protect our homes. Surely the council can work with us to either
find us another site or to leave us in peace at this one? We are not asking
anyone for money, just for permission to live as we want to."
Cliff Podona, of the National Travellers' Group, said: "These people are
living on land that is rightfully theirs and will do everything they can to
avoid eviction. There are women, children and pensioners on the site who
are terrified about what is going on. There are over 40 children enrolled
at the local school who will have their education disrupted if they are
made to leave."
But the council said it would continue to try to remove the travellers.
Spokesman Tim Norton said the council had received information that the
travellers intended to resist the eviction "utilising considerable force".
He added: "Having evaluated the situation it was decided that the eviction
should not proceed today. The council remains committed to ending the
unlawful development of the gypsy site."
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