The Essex travellers at Dale Farm are at the end of the legal battle. The real fight is about to start. Evictions were due to start on August 31st but there was a legal delay. On Monday 19th September the bailiffs arrived but at the last moment there was another delay.
In August residents of the Dale Farm traveller site at Crays Hill near Basildon presented No. 10 Downing Street with a petition to allow them to stay on the land. This petition has been backed by Lord Avebury who has said that the eviction is senseless – they have nowhere else to go.
As it currently stands residents must still evict themselves from the site. All the travellers are asking is to stop the plans for a forcible eviction and allow them time to find somewhere to live.
However, Tony Ball, the local council leader, has said that they have been working with the travellers at Dale Farm for the last 10 years in an attempt to find a solution to many illegal homes that have been erected on the site.
Dale Farm residents have been protesting in Basildon town for a while now.
Travellers Not Going Without a Fight
The residents of Dale Farm do not appear to plan to go without a fight. Residents have been erecting barricades and placing flammable items and oil drums on the entrances.
Dale Farm is the largest traveller site in the UK. With 50 properties and an estimated 1000 residents. There are a mixture of Romany Gypsy and Irish Travellers at the site. They currently live a normal lifestyle with children attending school and many people working for a living. The only difference really is that they do not have planning permission to build on the site.
The travellers own the land, it was purchased from a local land owner many years ago. However, they have never received planning permission to erect permanent residences on half of the plot.
Many travellers have lived legally on the site when it was first purchased in the 1960s. Over the years as more small sites were closed down by local councils the travellers flocked to Dale Farm where they knew that there was a privately owned plot of land large enough to accommodate them.
Dale Farm Gypsy Site is Half Legal
Dale Farm is on green belt land. This means that planning permission will never be granted for the building of residential properties on the site. Many local people feel very strongly that they land should be returned to “nature” or farmed on in keeping with the type of farming common in the area.
Half of the site is legal. The site started with 34 pitches in the 1960’s and Romany gypsies lived there legally for many years. Adjacent to the site was a scrap metal yard. This was sold to Irish travellers in the 1980’s and as more traveller sites were closed down Irish gypsies started moving in. There are now around 51 caravans and homes on the illegal part of the site.
Just 1 Square Mile Need for all Gypies
Equality and Human Rights Commission have produced an interesting fact – all UK travellers and gypsies could be comfortable homed on just 1 square mile of land. This would create an almost apartheid situation though, with all travellers living in a “township” in the UK.