Dale Farm travellers unveil new Community Centre

Mark mark at tlio.org.uk
Sat May 3 10:32:52 BST 2008

Saturday 3rd May, 2008

Travellers at the Crays Hill (Dale Farm) traveller site will today unveil
a new £12,000 county council-funded community centre at a special launch
event on Saturday.

The building, funded by Essex Racial Equality Council, is called St
Christopher's, and will be used for community meetings and as a chapel and
IT school for kids.

At a grand opening of the new building this afternoon, the building will
be blessed by Father John Glynn of Our Lady of Good Counsel Church,
Wickford. There will also be speeches by Lib Dem peer Lord Avebury, Clive
Mardner, director of equality council, who sponsored the project and bid
for the cash, and site spokesman Richard Sheridan, Gypsy Council

News of the community centre has infuriated some local residents and
politicians since though the community centre is funded by the local
council, the building hasn't been granted planning permission. The Dale
Farm traveller site is awaiting a decision from the High Court about
whether 86 families on the site should face eviction; a video of the
brutal eviction at the Meadowlands site in essex in 2004 was shown at the
high Court which is reported to have shocked the judge (See the
www.advocacynet.org website for footage of this and other previous
evictions by Constant). The traveller law centre has estimated that an
eviction of the entire site will cost over £1 million.

Grattan Puxon, a lead campaigner for the site, has named the centre after
a school he helped build on a site facing eviction on the outskirts of
Dublin in the 1960s, where some ancestors of travellers at Dale Farm once

He said: "We are very optimistic the judge's ruling will go in our favour,
so the community centre will be very beneficial.

Funding for the new centre by the equality council came from a county
council youth fund to buy the building and computers. Billericay MP John
Baron has already urged the National Lottery to stop funding the equality
council because he claims it is "biased to travellers".

"James Dasinger, a US volunteer living at the site, will run IT lessons
for children." He said he did not believe the building required planning
permission and said the equality council had pushed the project forward.

Basildon Council leader Malcolm Buckley said: "If any breaches of planning
have occurred they will be subject to enforcement action.

* Read a timeline of the Dale Farm controversy.

See also: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/diggers350/message/1731
& http://groups.yahoo.com/group/diggers350/message/1768

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