In defence of Dale Farm - Human Rights Day protest rally

Mark mark at
Fri Nov 20 08:11:43 GMT 2009

Article by Corporate Watch 'WATCHING THE CORPORATIONS -  Dale Farm
travellers to be evicted, Constant & Co. to make £2m' below.

---------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------
From:    "Dale Farm" < at>
Date:    Thu, November 19, 2009 10:16 am

3 December
An information evening, with
films and music, is being held at
London Action Resource Centre
62 Fieldgate Street
London E1 1ES
Starts 7pm
This is in preparation for

10 December
Human Rights Day protest rally, starts 7.30pm outside the Basildon Centre,
St Martin's Square Basildon SS14 1DL
Anti-fascist expo on placards depicting treatnment of Gypsies
from l939 Nazis to 2009 BNP, allied to Hungarian Guard, which has murdered
9 Roma this year.
Basildon District Council's Cabinet will be meeting to award
a two million pound contract to one of two bailiff companies for
the eviction operation against Dale Farm and Hovefields Travellers'
Supporters can take a train from Fenchurch Street direct to Basildon; or
make use of mini-buses running from Dale Farm to the Basildon Centre, from
The demonstration is being supported by students from Essex University.

Article: WATCHING THE CORPORATIONS   Dale Farm travellers to be evicted,
Constant & Co. to make £2m

by Corporate Watch
November 18, 2009

The Basildon District Council cabinet is meeting on 10th December to
decide which of two undisclosed bailiff companies it will use to forcibly
evict travellers living on Britain's biggest traveller site, the renowned
Dale Farm in Essex. Constant & Co., the UK's most notorious anti-traveller
bailiff firm, said, in July, that it expected to win the £2 million
contract, which would culminate in the biggest eviction operation in
modern British history.

'This land is our land'

As part of a larger traveller site on Oak Lane in Crays Hill, Billericay,
Dale Farm has been home to Roma and travellers since the 1960's, when the
first group of Roma settled there. During the l970's, a number of families
were granted planning permission by the then Labour-controlled Basildon
Council and by 1996 there were some 40 properties on the site owned by

The l994 Criminal Justice Act not only 'relieved' local authorities of the
duty to provide caravan parks to travellers, a duty imposed by the l968
Caravan Sites Act, but also increased police powers, under Section 62, to
evict travellers attempting to camp on roadsides or car parks. The
Conservative government at the time advised travellers to buy the land
they had been living on to 'avoid trouble'. Indeed, relatives of those
settled on Oak Lane bought an old scrap-yard and other adjacent greenbelt
land, including Dale Farm.

Dale Farm was divided into 52 plots and accommodated some 70 families. The
number of residents has since grown considerably with approximately 1,000
men, women and children now living on the site. This expansion has been
due to evictions in other parts of Essex, in Hertfordshire and
Cambridgeshire where travellers lost land they had bought because local
councils refused to grant them planning permission.

In 2005, Basildon District Council, together with Tory MP John Baron,
started a campaign to "rid the district of travellers," as a local
newspaper put it at the time. Needless to say, the issue has been
exploited by a plethora of politicians to win votes, from the
Conservatives, through Labour, to the BNP. The district council is now

Eviction battle

All planning applications for plots on Dale Farm were refused and three
public inquiries were held. The travellers' appeals to government
eventually resulted in a temporary stay for two years. In May 2005,
however, Basildon Council voted to spend up to £4 million on 'direct
action eviction' under Section 127 of the Town and Country Planning Act,
not only of Dale Farm but also of other traveller families living at
Hovefields Avenue, Wickford. The Essex County Council has even drawn up a
plan to allegedly take more than 100 children at Dale Farm into temporary
care as a means of pressuring their families to leave Basildon, or Essex

In May 2008, the Dale Farm eviction was put on hold when the High Court
issued an injunction against the eviction, ruling that the council had
failed to offer an alternative site. The council also took later decisions
concerning two other sites and these were subsequently included in the
same judicial proceedings. In January 2009, the Court of Appeal overturned
the High Court ruling, paving the way for an imminent eviction. An
application to the House of Lords to appeal the decision made by the Court
of Appeal has recently been refused.

It is worth noting that the Dale Farm case has been registered with the
United Nations Advisory Group on Forced Evictions, which has even sent a
special team to monitor the eviction. The Children's Commissioner has also
written to the council to enquire about its plans to avoid further
traumatising the 150 or so children living on the site and to determine
what alternative accommodation it has to offer them. The council has not
been able to provide any answers, even though a 'huge re-housing process'
is allegedly underway. According to the travellers, only two or three
families have so far been offered accommodation in the form of houses,
which the families have refused, saying, as travellers, they do not want
to live in houses but want land instead. Richard Bennett, a Tory Surrey
councillor who chaired the Local Government Association's 'Gypsy and
Traveller Task Group' between 2004 and 2007, when it was disbanded, has
been appointed as a 'mediator'. The council, however, does not seem to be
interested in 'solutions' other than forcible eviction. By its own
admission, "a number of other options were available" to Basildon's
Development Control and Traffic Management Committee when it met on 5th
June 2007. Nevertheless, they decided by four votes to one that "direct
action”, namely eviction, “offered the only effective and lasting way to
deal with this serious breach of planning control within the green belt."

'Specialists in gypsy evictions'

On 14th July 2005, Basildon Council voted to spend a minimum of £1.9
million to evict about 500 men, women and children living on Dale Farm.
The eviction has been on hold for four years due to legal proceedings but,
now with legal obstacles removed, there is a likely candidate to win the
lucrative contract: 'specialist' bailiff firm, Constant & Company, a
company used by the council for previous traveller evictions. In addition
to the £1.9 million, it is estimated that the accompanying police
operation will cost £1 million, which will come from public funds.

Constant & Co. describes itself as "the most experienced" and "busiest"
company in the country in recovering possession of land from "unwanted
trespassers." Searching online for the company, one finds it pointedly
accompanied by the tagline "gypsy & traveller evictions”. Through such
brutal evictions as the infamous Meadowlands and Twin Oaks evictions in
2004, Constant & Co. has gained itself a reputation as the country's most
notorious anti-traveller bailiff firm. Its other services include squatter
evictions, commercial rent recovery and local authority enforcement
actions. It also provides private investigation services, including
criminal and civil investigations, surveillance and tracing. In relation
to the latter, the company's website boasts that its "dedicated specialist
staff" are able to meet "new challenges", such as the Data Protection Act
and Human Rights Act, which "have made it increasingly difficult to
conduct successful tracing." Through "blending" the latest technology with
traditional investigative techniques, they claim to have achieved
"impressive results" in this field. Some of the company's directors and
'core employees' are former police officers, while the rest of its teams
of bailiffs are civilian employees bonded and certificated by county

Established in 1973, Constant & Co. is the trading name of Constant and
Company (Bedford) Limited, registered in England and Wales with registered
number 1899428. Previously known as Constant & Co. (Cambridge) Ltd., it is
a relatively small private company limited by shares. By 12th March 2009,
the company had issued 100 shares, each worth £100. Of these, 99 shares
are owned by director Brian Denys George Constant, with the other share
held by co-director Brian Edward Lecoche. Constant's registered office is
136-140 Bedford Road, Kempston, Bedford, MK42 8BH, but its head office is
located at 66 Harpur Street, Bedford, MK40 2RA. It also has a 'fully
computerised' processing centre in Milton Keynes (163 Queensway,
Bletchley, MK2 2DZ) and two smaller offices in Cambridgeshire and

Needless to say, Constant & Co. has earned millions of pounds over the
years removing travellers from land they live on, and in some cases own,
in mostly unlawful, cowboy-style operations around the country. Its most
recent accounts show that its net current assets at the end of 2008 were
almost £1.2 million.

Constant & Co. markets itself by arguing that court proceedings can be
"extremely expensive" and "involve delay." Thus, "a fast alternative
course of action" that the company regularly deploys and that has
allegedly been "very successful" with many high-profile clients is for
bailiffs to forcibly take 'legal' possession of an occupied site, usually
within 24 to 48 hours of being instructed, then arrange for tow trucks and
cleansing contractors, if needed. Constant & Co.'s contractors include G
Moore Haulage Ltd., which is based in Bedford, and WFL Recovery, which is
based in Cambridge.

During last year's High Court appeal, the Dale Farm Housing Association
submitted a detailed dossier, comprising 26 pages, photographs and video
footage, about Constant & Co.'s conduct during the Hovefields eviction
three years ago. The evidence showed that Constant had ignored health and
safety regulations, such as carrying out operations with heavy machinery
while children were present and failing to enclose demolition sites with
fencing. Constant is also known to have smashed travellers' caravans and
mobile homes and, on one occasion, ignored a High Court injunction not to
enter a traveller-owned property. The dossier was also sent to the
Ministry of Justice, the Bailiffs Association and Constant itself, but
there has been no response. The council questionnaire sent to Constant
recently in preparation for the Dale Farm eviction asks how the company
has responded to complaints in the past - it would certainly be
interesting to know the answer.

During the May 2008 hearing, the High Court judge, having watched a video
of a previous Constant eviction, said it was "inappropriate" for Basildon
Council to continue using Constant & Co. However, everything indicates
that it will continue to do so. Furthermore, it has recently surfaced that
Basildon Council, along with its contracted bailiffs, has failed to
produce Risk Assessment reports for previous evictions, such as the one at
Hovefields, or as part of the planning for the Dale Farm eviction.

Of course, Constant & Co. is by no means the only bailiff company offering
its 'services' to local authorities to deal with what the industry happily
terms “the gypsy problem”. For instance, Civil Enforcement Agent, a
bailiff company based in Kent and whose clients include many large
multinational blue-chip companies, states on its website that "court
action [to remove travellers] is expensive and takes several weeks... so
why not use a bailiff?" The company goes on to 'explain': "The longer they
stay, the dirtier the area."

1st Class Bailiffs Limited, another bailiff company based in Darlington,
Durham, uses a similar marketing argument: "Our procedure is much quicker
and cheaper than going for a court order." Hatwel Services, which has
acted on behalf of various district and county councils in south-east
England, goes even further: "We are the only bailiff company that can
offer a one-stop-shop solution to your traveller/gypsy problems." As
"specialists in the business of evictions of travellers and gypsies," they
offer "a complete eviction and a clear-up service."

Other bailiff companies in the travellers eviction business include Alpha
Collections (based in Crawley), Safeguard Bailiff Services (Leicester),
Secure Site UK (Worthing), Maltaward (West Sussex), Uniqwin (Warrington),
M.S. Webb and Co. (Surrey) and UK Bailiff Company (Kent). It is worth
noting that almost none of these companies is a member of the Enforcement
Services Association, formerly known as the Certificated Bailiffs
Association, which currently has around 30 corporate members.


During seven years of legal battles, scores of protests by the Dale Farm
travellers and their supporters have taken place. To coincide with the
Basildon cabinet meeting on 10th December 2009, incidentally International
Human Rights Day, a public demonstration and rally has been called outside
the district council offices at the Basildon Centre. No Borders London is
organising an info night on 3rd December at the London Action Resource
Centre (LARC) in Whitechapel to mobilise for the rally and resistance to
the possible eviction.

Grattan Puxon, a spokesperson for the Save Dale Farm campaign, told
Corporate Watch that a request by Dale Farm mothers to address the cabinet
meeting has been turned down. The council's Corinna Hill told the Dale
Farm Homeless Mothers' Committee that the reason for declining their
request is that "agenda items about business and financial matters are
exempt from public disclosure." Another request by the Dale Farm Housing
Association to mount an exhibition at the Basildon Centre to mark Human
Rights Day has also been refused. The pictures, however, will be displayed
as part of an expo that will tell the story of the brutal treatment of
Roma from 1939 to 2009, including the Nazi genocide which took the lives
of 500,000 Roma.

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