Reality check: Cost of Dale Farm eviction, £18m 0r £21.3m?
tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Wed Oct 19 12:16:24 BST 2011
Reality check: how much is the Dale Farm eviction costing?
A massive police operation is underway to clear
Dale Farm and reclaim the former scrapyard as
green belt land. What is it costing the taxpayer?
Polly Curtis, with your help, finds out. Get in
touch below the line, email your views to
polly.curtis at guardian.co.uk or tweet @pollycurtis.
Polly Curtis - guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 19 October 2011 10.33 BST
10.33am: Basildon council along with the police
and a firm of bailiffs is in the process of
evicting 86 families - about 400 people - from
the 52 plots of land on Dale Farm. It is a
coordinated and well planned operation, preceded
by an aborted attempt last month when campaigners
successfully won an injunction. How much is the
taxpayer paying to clear Dale Farm?
The council says:
Basildon council says the official "worst case
scenario" bill stands at £18m, including a £10m
bill for the police operation and £8m from the council.
The bill breaks down into:
Constant and Co. the bailiffs contracted by the council £2.2m
East of England Ambulance Service £200,000
Specialist Fire Safety Appliances £50,000
Temporary Accommodation £1m
Temporary Advice and Liaison facility £100,000
Additional Council resources to support the operation £300,000
Additional Council resources for post operation support £250,000
Operational Contingency £900,000
Total - £5m
An anonymous spokesman adds said in a statement:
Although the cost itemised above includes an
operational contingency there is a possibility
that operational expenditure may exceed the £5m
indicated. In this instance it will be necessary
for an additional budget to be agreed to ensure
the safe and successful completion of the site
clearance. It is therefore proposed that the
Chief Executive and Leader of the Council be
delegated authority to approve additional
expenditure up to a maximum of £1.5m bringing
estimated costs of site clearance to £6.5m. Added
to the £1.5m post operation costs, that equals £8m.
A press officer also told me over the phone that
the aborted clearance in September cost the
council £400,000 after they had to "stand-down"
an entire operation that had been set up. It's
not clear where this figure factors into their overall costings.
Dale Farm Solidarity says:
The campaign group opposing the eviction makes
the following estimation of the costs. Expected
costs in early October (before the legal process
was completed) are split as follows:
£12.5m for policing costs
£2.5m Council reserve to cover any overspend
£2.2m for the Bailiffs Constant and Co.
£1.5m site clearance costs
£1m for temporary accommodation
£550,000 for Council staffing
£436,000 for Council's legal costs
£250,000 for fire and ambulance services
£188,000 for legal aid
£67,000 for the Equality and Human Rights Commission's legal costs
£25,000 for courts
At £21.3m in total, that equates to £248,000 per evicted family.
It claims that £6 million of the costs have come
from the Home Office, as well as £1.2 million
from Eric Pickles' Department for Communities and Local Government.
The government is making UK taxpayers foot the
bill for this unnecessary eviction, even during a
time of massive government spending cuts.
Which is true?
The discrepancy between the two figures the
council's £18m and the campaigners' £22.3m seems
to be mainly the result of differing accounts of
how much the police operation will cost: the
council says £10m; the Dale Farm claim £12.5m.
The campaign groups figures appear to be derived
from this Telegraph story. It says:
The policing costs are being split between Essex
police (£3m), Essex police authority (£2.5m),
Basildon (£1.2m) and the Home Office (£5.8m).
A spokesperson for the police operation refused
to give any details of the costing saying:
We won't be revealing the costs until after the
operation is complete. We wouldn't even be estimating I'm afraid.
The Home Office says that they haven't yet given
the council or force any money for the operation
because such grants for one-off events are made
retrospectively. To be eligible for a special
police operation grant, such as those awarded in
the instances of policing the G20, the operation
would have to be considered a one-off event (the
home office spokesman I considered suggested that
Dale Farm would comply with this) but would also
have to show that the operation cost more than 1% of their annual budget.
Essex Police's funding allocation for this year
was £117,609,934 so the budget for Dale Farm is
more than likely to amount to more than 1% of that budget.
It's also worth noting that the council stands to
lose around £40,000 paid annually in council tax by the residents of Dale Farm.
The council has a budget of £8m for the
evictions, the police operation is thought to be
around £10m with some suggestions that it could stretch to over £12.5m.
The total bill is put at £18m by the council and
£20.13m by the Dale Farm Solidarity campaign group.
But these figures are extremely provisional and
don't include the costs of the delays to the
evictions after the court action last month.
Do you have better figures on the costs or an
understanding of the price of major police
operations? What do you think of the price-tag on
the evictions? Get in touch below the line, email
your views to polly.curtis at guardian.co.uk or tweet @pollycurtis.
The Dale Farm Solidarity campaign's claim that
residents at the site pay £40,000 worth of
council tax is disputed by the council. A
spokesman has just called to say that there are
50 properties registered to pay council tax at
the site. Two accounts are paid, 25 receive
council tax benefits and 23 are currently
outstanding. "We are pursuing them as we would
anyone who hasn't paid their council tax," the spokesman said.
+44 (0)7786 952037
"Capitalism is institutionalised bribery."
"The maintenance of secrets acts like a psychic
poison which alienates the possessor from the community" Carl Jung
Fear not therefore: for there is nothing covered
that shall not be revealed; and nothing hid that
shall not be made known. What I tell you in
darkness, that speak ye in the light and what ye
hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. Matthew 10:26-27
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