Basildon Tories vote for £18m war on Dale Farm travellers

Tony Gosling tony at
Tue Mar 15 11:51:58 GMT 2011

Travellers vow to stay at TV camp despite eviction vote
by Don Mackay, Daily Mirror 15/03/2011
TRAVELLERS on the UK’s biggest illegal camp 
threatened to “bomb, gas and burn” bailiffs as 
plans for an £18million eviction were voted 
through last night. More than 500 men, women and 
kids are illegally camped on Dale Farm near 
Billericay, Essex, which has appeared on Channel 
4’s Big Fat Gypsy Wedding. Basildon council last 
night voted to evict 100 families from 51 
greenbelt plots. But Nora Gore, a mum-of-two, 
said: “We will bomb them, we will gas them, we 
will burn them if we have to but we are going to 
fight. We are not going to go. “I am going to 
chain myself to the railings. If that doesn’t 
work we have got a few more tricks up our 
sleeves.” Tony Ball, leader of the Tory-run 
council, told the meeting: “Wrong is wrong. There 
cannot be one rule for one and another for 
others.” Travellers moved on to the greenbelt 
site – next to a legal gypsy camp – in 2001.

Gypsies braced for 'war' as bulldozers move in
By Jerome Taylor - Monday, 14 March 2011
Britain's gypsies and travellers are bracing 
themselves for "a state of war" as council 
chiefs, encouraged by the Coalition government, 
move to bulldoze the homes of hundreds of people 
who live on the largest traveller site in the 
country. Councillors in Basildon, Essex, are 
meeting tonight to approve the £8m eviction plan 
for Dale Farm, a sprawling traveller site that is 
home to 96 families, and which has become the 
flashpoint of a row over the future of the 
country's 300,000 gypsies, who say they feel 
increasingly marginalised by public attitudes and 
the policies of the new government. The 
inhabitants of Dale Farm have vowed to resist any 
attempt to evict them. One resident, named only 
as Nora, told the Travellers' Times website: 
"We've things up our sleeves. It will be like 
Belfast if they come in here. They haven't a clue what they're up against."
Last week the Prime Minister, David Cameron, 
encouraged the evictions by describing his "sense 
of unfairness that one law applied to everybody 
else and, on too many occasions, another law applies to travellers".
Since coming to power the Coalition has done away 
with a string of measures that were brought in to 
protect traveller communities from prejudice and 
encourage them to settle. Travellers fear that 
the new Localism Bill, which will give local 
communities more say in the planning process, 
will return Britain to the mid-1990s when 
travellers felt persecuted by the Conservative 
government of the day, and up to 90 per cent of 
planning applications by travellers were rejected.

European human rights monitors back illegal traveller camp
By Patrick Sawer 1:50PM GMT 13 Mar 2011
But last week the academic from Serbia – a nation 
whose death squads gave rise to the term “ethnic 
cleansing” during the 1990s – was leading a 
European delegation to assess whether ethnic 
minorities in Britain suffer from discrimination 
or inequality. Her organisation – the Council of 
Europe’s Advisory Committee on the Framework 
Convention for the Protection of National 
Minorities – has issued reports accusing Britain 
of doing too little to help asylum seekers, 
migrant workers, the Cornish, and speakers of the 
Ulster-Scots language.  Its latest visit may 
prove its most contentious. Among the stops on 
the visitors’ unpublicised five-day tour was 
Crays Hill in Essex – the site of Dale Farm, 
Britain’s biggest illegal traveller camp, which 
police fear could soon become the scene of 
violent disturbances if council chiefs press 
ahead with plans to evict its residents. The 
four-strong European delegation spent more than 
an hour at the site listening to travellers 
telling their side of the story. The families 
have occupied the site – the majority with no 
planning permission – for the past 10 years. They 
expressed their fears that their tight-knit 
community may be broken up. Among them was Mary 
Ann McCarthy, 69, an Irish-born traveller who has 
seven children and 20 grandchildren.
“We need a miracle, because Basildon council seem 
determined to get rid of us,” Mrs McCarthy said 
after the meeting. “We face a lot of prejudice 
and we feel safer together here.”
However, nearby residents, who claim their 
neighbourhood has been blighted by the illegal 
camp, said the monitors made no attempt to speak 
to them. The local parish council was not invited 
to submit evidence about the problems experienced 
by the camp’s neighbours. And a planned meeting 
between the delegation and Basildon council – 
which is behind the eviction moves – had to be 
abandoned after the delegation arrived late, due 
to a mix-up over trains. The talks had to be held 
by telephone the following day. David 
McPherson-Davis, a member of Ramsden Crays parish 
council, said: “The people who have lived here 
all their lives have been denied the opportunity 
to tell the Council of Europe delegation what 
impact the illegal settlement has had on them. 
It’s completely unfair for the delegation to hear 
only one side of the story. It’s as if they’ve 
come here with a closed mind.” The monitors are 
expected to write a report backing the 
travellers’ fight to stay. Tomorrow , councillors 
are expected to vote to set aside £8 million to 
pay for the eviction and restoration of the site. 
Essex Police are asking the Home Office to cover 
the estimated £10 million cost of maintaining 
order during the operation, which is expected to take several weeks.
At Dale Farm, families have erected barbed wire 
fencing and are stockpiling planks, rubble and 
tyres with which to build barricades. One Dale 
Farm resident, a 58-year-old woman named only as 
Nora, told the Travellers’ Times website: “We’ve 
things up our sleeves. It will be like Belfast if 
they come in here. They haven’t a clue what they 
are up against.”  Tony Ball, the leader of 
Basildon council, said the proposed eviction of 
more than 400 people from 90 traveller families 
was “a planning issue not a human rights issue”. 
It follows five public inquiries and a judicial 
review. Mr Ball said: “We have offered the 
families homes in the form of bricks and mortar, 
but they have refused these and we now have no 
option but to move them on.” In its last report 
on Britain, published in 2007, the advisory 
committee blamed the problem of illegal traveller 
camps on the failure by councils to provide 
enough authorised sites and on “hostility among 
some people within the local population”. Last 
night an advisory council spokesman said the trip had been “very useful”.
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