Eviction 'a missed opportunity'

tliouk office at tlio.demon.co.uk
Tue Jan 27 13:55:46 GMT 2004

Riot Cops + Baliffs Evict Meadowlands Traveller Site

Bailiffs hired by Chelmsford Borough Council yesterday (26th) evicted 
the 30 or so people with kids from the Meadowlands site where they 
had been living since 2001. Tooled up riot police and over thirty 
bailiffs entered the site on monday morning. Defensive ditches and 
barricades had been set up and fires were lit as people resisted the 
eviction. Four people were nicked (3 for violent disorder and one for 
obstruction). Apparently 4 bailiffs were injured. The site's been 
cleared now.

Eviction 'a missed opportunity' 

A local council missed an opportunity to set a good example for 
treatment of travellers, according to a spokesman for a human rights 

Terry Stewart, from the Irish Human Rights and Justice group, which 
supports travellers, said Chelmsford Borough Council set a poor 
example for other communities. 

He said: "The fact that they've now issued a statement saying 'we've 
locked up all our gates' in the borough, as well as these people 
being driven onto the M25 with a police escort, illustrates to me 
that a lot of other boroughs will also be thinking about how they 
will begin to deal with these travellers." 

Four people were arrested and two were injured on Monday morning when 
borough council officials sent in contract staff with a court order 
to clear the site on Cranham Road in Little Waltham. 

Security guards patrolled the former unofficial travellers site 
overnight following the eviction, which was attended by police in 
riot gear after indications that the travellers would resist. 

But Mr Stewart said: "The thing about Chelmsford Council was that it 
had an opportunity to give a lead in a way on how the larger 
community relates to travellers and the Roma. 

"They have missed that opportunity. 

"These are people who are homeless - they deserve a little bit of 
human decency from other people." 

Chelmsford Borough Council had a court order demanding the travellers 
leave the site, after a legal battle which began in 2001. 

Councillor Neil Gulliver, the borough's executive member for planning 
and transport, said: "We've set aside £100,000 to deal with this, and 
it may end up costing even more. 

"No authority wants to do it, but ultimately you have an obligation 
under planning law and you have to deal with it." 

He said conventional houses would not have been allowed on the 
agricultural site either. 

An emergency housing centre was set up at the local village hall for 
the travellers. 

They have now either moved to other sites outside Essex, or are 
staying in council accommodation for the homeless. 

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