Special Report Ethnic Cleansing at Dale Farm

In an exclusive report, Director and activist Dean Puckett, who has spent four days living in the heart of the Traveller community at Dale Farm, gives a powerful and impassioned account of the grave act of injustice unfolding there, and what must be done to defeat it.

New in Ceasefire, Politics - Posted on Sunday, September 4, 2011 22:02 - 32 Comments

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Dale Farm: 30 August 2011: Caravans and mobile homes

By Dean Puckett

I have just spent 4 days living in the heart of the Traveller community at Dale Farm in Basildon in Essex, as part of a the Camp Constant protest site. Dale Farm is currently the largest Traveller community of its kind in Britain. It consists of nearly a hundred plots of land and at its peak, over a thousand residents of Irish Traveller and English Gypsy heritage. Basildon Borough Council has voted to spend £18m evicting some 90 families (about 500 people, many of them children) from the 52 plots of land at Dale Farm that do not have planning permission, making these people homeless. This can happen at any time from midnight on 31st August, 2011.

irish traveller children

Ethnic Cleansing ?

The official United Nations definition of ethnic cleansing is “rendering an area ethnically homogeneous by using force or intimidation to remove from a given area persons of another ethnic or religious group.”

The state and local councils are tightening their grip on this already marginalized community by telling them that they have to live like the rest of us, and they are doing so because they believe that they have a remit from the British public and are reluctant to challenge the prejudices of their voters. Basildon Borough Council has proposed that the community be separated and placed in flats and houses.

Travellers are an ethnic group largely defined by strong religious beliefs, the vast majority being  Roman Catholics and living in caravans in close-knit outdoor communities. To destroy this is to destroy the Travellers. One of the Traveller woman chatted to me as I cooked a large (vegan) curry for my fellow concerned citizens at camp Constant. She said, ” We tried living in bricks and mortar before”, but “we couldn’t sleep, we all ended up sleeping together on the floor of the front room.” Then she laughed and offered to fetch us some tins of sweetcorn that she had going spare to donate to the kitchen.

Rallying cry: The Dale farm residents are facing eviction

John Baron, the MP for Basildon and Billericay, appealed for the Travellers to leave peacefully. He said: ‘The law must be enforced equally and fairly, otherwise we discriminate against the law-abiding majority. No one group or individual can be above the law.’

But what he fails to recognise is that the law is not applied equally and fairly. Planning permission is not easily available to Traveller communities anywhere. It is almost impossible for Travellers to find a place to live in safety without the constant threat of eviction. The Commission for Racial Equality reports that more than 90 per cent of Traveller planning applications are initially rejected, compared to less than 20 per cent of rejected applications for everybody else.

So the law is not equally applied. Gypsies and Travellers in the UK are trapped in a web of overlapping, systemic failures to respect their customs and preferences. This is compounded by racism. A 2004 MORI poll revealed that one third of the public admit to being personally prejudiced against Gypsies and Travellers. Some commentators in the media and on forums I have scanned have said things like “If they are travellers why don’t they want to travel?” The answer to that amongst other things is the fact that many of the children are now enrolled in local schools and are learning to read and write, an opportunity that many of the mothers here did not have, and which they are seeing the value of for their own children.

The media magnifies the ‘tensions’ between Traveller community’s and the ‘Settled community’ out of all proportion. There are tensions for sure, but mainly to do with lack of understanding and economic considerations such as house prices going down – which of course is linked more to the prospect of national and global recession than local issues. In any case, this is a vicious circle as house prices are linked to consumer desires which are heavily influenced in this case by racial prejudice. Perhaps some of the £18m could be used to ease these social tensions, rather then just sweeping the problem under the carpet or in this case onto the side of the road.

Just one square mile of land would be enough to provide all Gypsy and Traveller families in the UK with a place to stay, according to a report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, but there is a shortage of authorized pitches. It is a legal requirement for councils to provide pitches for Travellers but nationally Councils are 4,000 pitches below their targets, or about 25,000 individuals who are forced to lead their lives outside the law. Speaking to residents it is clear that living outside of the system is not necessarily something they want to do, rather a necessity to protect their culture and avoid being separated by “bricks and mortar”

Communities secretary, Eric Pickles, insists Travellers who “play by the rules” will get a fair deal.  The government, however, has just cut £30m of funding for new sites. Under the new localism bill, retrospective planning permission will be outlawed, which has been virtually the only way Travellers have managed to get sites approved in the past. This government  with the consent of the British public is tightening the vice, and there is nowhere for these families to go.

Dale Farm: 30 August 2011: Vivian (L) and Beverly play with a puppy

The Land is Ours

It is very important to realize that Travellers at Dale Farm actually own the land that they have settled on but only half of the site has planning permission. Reading the local Paper, The Basildon Echo and other right wing news outlets you would be forgiven for thinking that the Travellers had invaded a lush green paradise and destroyed the English countryside.

Although the site is officially registered as greenbelt land this is a cynically used argument. Before the Travellers bought Dale Farm, it was being run as a concreted brownfield site and part of it was a legally-recognised scrap yard. The residents cleaned up the scrap yard and turned it into a home for their families. One resident told me personally that there was battery acid seeping through the ground when she arrived 10 years ago. The Traveller’s thought they were ‘playing by the rules’ when they purchased the land. But now it is very likely that it will be confiscated and sold by the council to pay for their eviction.

Dale Farm: 30 August 2011: Traveller boy Pa Button holds a puppy

The cynical use of the greenbelt argument is exposed when other planning permission cases involving similar greenbelt land are explored. For instance, Basildon council has been willing to use their discretion to override the greenbelt status of a similar partially concreted ‘greenbelt’ site, the ‘Barleylands Depot’, to permit development (a recycling plant). There is much land in Basildon, including greenbelt land, which is earmarked for development, including large ‘affordable housing’ projects. In August 2010 172 acres of Green belt land was bought by developer Barratt Homes what will they be doing with this piece of greenbelt land?

Watch this video and note at 4.23 mins Tony Ball Leader of Basildon council regurgitates the totally undermined greenbelt argument.

Immature and Unwise

The UN committee on the elimination of racial discrimination (CERD) has spoken out about the “immature and unwise” eviction of Dale Farm residents and expressed its “deep regret” at the £18m eviction. The UN was joined by Thomas Hammarberg, the Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights has warned there is a great risk of human rights violations if 86 families and 100 children were forcibly removed .

Specialist ‘Traveller and Gypsy’ bailiffs Constant & Co. have been offered the contract, and are notorious for their physical disregard and abuse of Travellers, including children, during past evictions. Forced evictions are brutal: homes are often bull-dozed. A Journalist from the Sunday times relayed to me information about them  “lifting a caravan with a bulldozer while a family sat inside”  An Elderly man told the camp at one of the regular Activist/ Traveller meetings that ‘They always go for the young men first’ and that at a past eviction he had be surrounded by police officers while Bailiffs repeatedly punched and kicked him to the extent that he was hospitalized.

Travellers Dale Farm Await Eviction

“If they go ahead with the eviction that would be very immature and unwise,” Hammarberg said. “The only way to do this is for the government or the authority in Basildon to appoint people who have trust on both sides to find an agreed solution.”  It called on the authorities to provide “culturally appropriate accommodation” before evictions were carried out. This means a piece of land for caravans.

Amnesty International UK said the UN intervention showed the eviction had “become an international issue that is putting the UK to shame”. Tim Hancock, its campaigns director, said: “Central and local authorities have a duty to comply with international human rights law and standards.”

Dale Farm: 30 August 2011: A traveller walks past a 'save our homes' sign

Camp Constant & Civil Disobedience

Often social justice and the Law come into direct conflict.

Tony Ball, leader of Basildon council, said  ”We’ve gone through the courts and it’s been tested all the way to the court of appeal. As far as English law is concerned, we’re in the right,”

In my opinion If the law is backing something which is morally bankrupt then that law must be broken. The only answer left for citizens who care about human rights is civil disobedience.

Dale Farm residents are calling for outside supporters to come to Dale Farm and to stay at ‘Camp Constant’ to stand with the community and oppose the threatened eviction. Rather than question systemic state violence which leads to Homes and Communities being destroyed, the media would like to shift the focus onto possible violence by the supporters or the Travellers themselves. ’Anarchists Hijacking Travellers last stand’ was the daily Mail headline this week, apparantly gleaned from police sources. This kind of journalism is lazy and dangerous and diverts attention from the real issues.

Cynical: A seven-year-old resident of the Dale Farm site stands guard in a Power Rangers costume Camp constant is a growing community of concerned citizens with a diversity of political opinions and approaches towards resistance. This is unprecedented and I feel privileged to have been welcomed into this community with such warmth. Watching the woman and children take a blessing from Franciscan monks on thursday evening, their faces lit by candles and the shadow of eviction looming over them, I knew where I needed to be. Today I get on a train and head back to Dale Farm I hope to see you there.

Dean Puckett, is Director of the new feature length documentary ‘The Crisis of Civilization‘ and concerned citizen of Great Britain.

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32 Comments

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Bobby
Sep 5, 2011 0:06

Wow, this is extensive! Well done on highlighting an issue that so many people don’t even know exists.

Paul Griffin
Sep 5, 2011 13:37

Excellent piece, I have a piece which focuses more on the incompetence of the authorities involved, it can be found here: http://t.co/Gy11Wm6

@thegriffter

billy
Sep 7, 2011 21:53

this is the best peace of information and honest reporting I have seen .. most papers give the governments side only .. thanks for the good work reporting this … this paper needs to go world wide so the world can see whats happening around the world … and dont think your group cant be next … weather your a Christian group ,, or even just someone that belongs to the masons or nights of columbus … you could be next .. the time to stop this is now and get these people out of office

Anastasia
Sep 9, 2011 0:14

Wow well done Dean, this is incredible.

MARGARET GILHEANEY
Sep 10, 2011 7:46

FIRST OF ALL I WANT 2 THANK YOU 4 UR COMENDABLE WORK 2 HELP SAVE DALE FARM AND 4 WANTING 2 PROTECT THE TRAVELLING AND GYPSY COMMUNITY, THEY GO ON ABOUT GREEN BELT LAND AND ABOUT PROTECTING IT. YET THEY THEMSELF’S SELL GREEN BELT LAND SO THAT HOUSE’S AND TRUCK STOP’S AND MANY OTHER BUILDING’S ARE BUILD ON THE GREEN BELT, PLUS THEY LET COUNTRY PEOPLE BUILD ~~ CARAVAN PARK’S ~~ WHICH ARE NOT TRAVELLING PEOPLE’S SITE’S, YET COUNTRY PEOPLE ARE LIVING IN THE SAME WAY AS TRAVELLER’S IN ~~ CARAVAN’S ~~ SO I SAY WHY DENY TRAVELLER’S AND GYPSY’S THE RIGHT 2 BUILD AND LIVE IN THE SAME WAY AS COUNTRY PEOPLE, THEY ARE LIVING IN THE SAME LIFE STYLE 2 TRAVELLER’S, THERE SHOULD NOT BE 1 LAW 4 THEM AND ANOTHER 4 USE, WEE ARE HUMAN BEING’S AND SHOULD BE EQUILE 2 ALL OTHER’S IN THIS COUNTRY, AND AS 4 GREEN BELT LAND, YES ADMITEDLY IT WAS GREEN BELT LAND 2 START OF WITH, BUT LATER WAS USED AS A SCAP YARD, SO IS NO LONGER SEEN AND NOT SAVED AS GREEN BELT, SO TECNELLY IT WAS WASTE GROUND, JUST IN THE SAME WAY, IF HOUSE’S WERE BUILT ON GREEN BELT, THAT IS NO LONGER SEEN AS GREEN BELT AS IT’S LAND BEEN USED 4 ANOTHER PURPOSE, THEY CANT KEEP USING THAT AS A WAY OF MOVING THEM ON, OTHER WISE THEY SHOULD BE TOLD THAT ANY BRICK’S AND MORTER THAT HAS BUILT HOUSE’S SHOULD BE DEMOLISHED, IN THE SAME WAY THEY ARE TRYING 2 DEMOLISH DALE FARM, THE LAW SHOULD BE APPLYED IN THE SAME WAY 4 ALL, NOT 4 A MYNORITY 0F PEOLE BECAUSE THEY’RE FROM A DIFFERENT CULTURE, AND IF THEY SAY IT’S THERE CULTURE THEN THERE ARE MANY DIFFERENT CULTURE’S LIVING IN THIS COUNTRY THAT ARE INDIFFERENT 2 ENGLISH LAW AS THEY SAY, EVERYONE HAS A RIGHT 2 LIVE THERE OWN CULTURE, I SAY THEY NEED 2 STOP PREDJUDICE, IT’S BEING GOING ON 4 2 LONG, PUT AN END TO ~~~ PREDJUDICE ~~~ I’AM GYPSY AND AND PROUD

Matt
Sep 10, 2011 12:28

Two points, if I may:

1 – The 90% figure. Of course a higher proportion of Apps will be refused if they are being done on the Greenbelt. What do you expect?

Do you have a like for like comparison?

2 – I note that the Barratt “Greenbelt” development you talk about as is stated in the article as having Planning Permission refused.

That seems to me to be an appropriate precedent.

Matt

Article in Ceasefire | Dale Farm Travellers
Sep 11, 2011 19:25

[…] the Special Report in Ceasefire about what’s going on at Dale Farm- the background and politics of ethnic cleansing in Essex. […]

anjou
Sep 11, 2011 20:21

Good article that deals with the human rights issues and some of the history.

The problems actually became manifest when the Courts (a local solicitor) “forgot” to identify to Secretary of states planning inspector that there was a lot of concrete on the site. The residents could not afford to appeal as they had spent all their money employing a solictor and there is no legal aid available.

Since then the courts have made a lot of money discussing how their decision impacted on the residents human rights, as Basildon Council obtained a mortgage deed (enforcement notices) over site. There have been a lot of arguments subsequently about the Council enforcing its mortgages (some of which are probably not formally valid). The Council is able to enforce its mortgage without any supervision of the Courts. The only time that Basildon Council has to prove the reasonableness and validity of its mortgage is when it seeks to realise the mortgage (get cash in) as it has to register the mortgage at Land Registry. There are about £200 billion of English Council mortgages not registered at Land Registry since 1990.

The process of registration converts the statutory rights of the Council to private rights. So by not registering and breaking the law.. Council’s get all sorts of benefits as well as infringing people’s human rights. It is law that the Council have to register to mortgages.. and Basildon have not registered theirs for previous human rights abuses.

Dale Farm brings a lot of issues into sharp focus..

Darren
Sep 11, 2011 20:26

I don’t think there is any rational person who thinks the travellers are legally in the right on this issue. The greenbelt/wasteland discussion is all smoke and mirrors around the basic fact that the development hasn’t got planning permission. The question is what do we do about this? Grant retrospective planning permission? But what about the views of the neighbours whose house values have dropped?

Or should Basildon allocate a large tract of land with planning permission for the travellers? Isn’t that just rewarding them for building illegally with an asset worth millions? Doesn’t that then set a precedent for any other travellers that want to live locally to be given land?

anjou
Sep 11, 2011 21:11

It is totally a DISCRETIONARY decision of the Council to take enforcement. There are a large number of developments that Basildon and other Council’s could take enforcement against. This is at least partly the issue. Basildon have just sold a large area of its parks and public open space (nearly.. not quite legal) to a housing developer for £11 million. The land probably has a value of about £70 million on the open market. All lawful… and a discretionary decision. Basildon has also said that dale Farm (the illegal site) has a value of about £7 million with planning permission (£150,000 a pitch).

If taking enforcement was not discretionary then I don’t think there would be a problem. Some of the neighbours should be compensated as their houses have fallen in value. There is no doubt that they have been treated badly. However, the root cause of the problem is a lack of sites, and a very long term failure by Council’s to provide sites (ever since 1974). It is my view that the neighbours have been treated badly by the Council. The Council was told that it needed to provide 65 pitches by the previous government. It’s own consultants identified that it needed to provide 155 pitches. The Council won’t provide.. and neither will any other Council.

Darren
Sep 11, 2011 21:49

@anjou –

Is it really discretionary for Basildon to take action to enforce planning law? Surely once the Planning Department are aware of an infringement they are duty bound to uphold the law? I imagine the neighbours would have let them know pretty quickly.

Not sure I understand the relevance of Basildon selling off its parks and public spaces?

Are there really a large number of developments that Basildon could take enforcement against but doesn’t? I find that a little hard to believe as it would amount to a collapse of the planning system.

I agree with you on the lack of available sites, but I understood the council no longer has a duty to provide these?

Chris
Sep 12, 2011 0:56

It’s not ethnic cleansing though is it? They are removing people from the illegal plots, leaving the people from the legal plots. No matter what religion, ethnicity or race – it’s just a silly smokescreen argument to say that. I know people who buy plots of land to build on, and they have to buy plots which they will be likely to get permission. This is not what the residents of Dale Farm did, a simple phonecall and they would have been told that permission was incredibly unlikely to be granted for that site.

Tecka
Sep 12, 2011 2:11

Just a quick comment on the validity of the scrapyard claim. It was a scrapyard but this was illegal and subject to an enforcement notice before the land was sold. Worth noting that the previous owner actually told the council that the land would be sold to travellers if they didn’t back down and that the legal pitches on which permission was granted before building started are staying. Please research properly and print all facts rather than just those that suit.

sean rua
Sep 12, 2011 10:46

May I ask how many pitches will be allowed to remain by the authorities?
Also, what is the council’s longterm plan for the area to be “cleared”?

Could somebody use a map to outline proposals , please?

anjou
Sep 12, 2011 17:00

The whole planning enforcement process is discretionary.

I can show you houses that have not been enforced against (developed without planning permission). In most districts Council’s after they have cleared a site of travellers (based on planning arguments) then grant planning permission for houses (based on exactly the same arguments they used to prosecute the travellers).

I don’t think that a lot of problems in this area would exist if Council’s acted consistently. They choose to issue an enforcement notice. They chose to act on an enforcement notice.

The relevance of the parks is that the Cllrs chose (discretionary decision again) to sell of the parks for less than market value.. There are lots of things that Basildon could take planning enforcement against (including some things that they do themselves).. this is the point about 80 per cent of all enforcement notices issued (discretionary decisions) are against gypsies whilst gypsies are only responsible for about 5 per cent of the things (of similar severity) that council’s could make a discretionary decision to take planning enforcement against.

The scrap yard was legal.. and has a certificate of lawfulness to prove it. Dale Farm was two sites in the 1990s (industrial site and scrap yard). The Council took enforcement against the iundustrial site about 2/3 of current Dale Farm and secured full compliance in about 1999. The Council continued to use the scrapyard part (1/3 of the current Dale Farm site) of the site (to store abandoned vehicles) until about 2000.

Tecka
Sep 12, 2011 19:41

OK then show us the proof of the discetionary allowances of houses allowed to stay on greenbelt land, show us the certificate of legality for the scrapyard.

The yard was a temporary yard which had licence extended two or three times until 1982 when another extension was denied, an enforcement notice issued, the owner then threatened to sell to travellers if the council did not back down and finally sold the land for £120,000 to John Sherridan. All this can be verified in a very short period of time on the net.

The part of the site that is staying was the old industrail site, which was bought, permission applied for and then building started, these are staying. You appear to have the two sections confused!

Planning is not discretionary, everyone has to apply permission. Your confussion maybe stems that the choice of to allow permission or not is possibly discretionary but greenbelt is notoriously difficult to obtain permission for.

But this has been going on for ten years. The travellers onsite have had a lot of time to make others arrangements and have even left legal sites in Wolverhampton (10 plots empty and registered to residents of dale farm) for example to move to what is known to be an illegal site, why – possibly because the plots Mr Sherridan sold for around £10,000 would be worth £150,000 if retro permission were granted.

The difference between the parks and the travellers are that the parks will have planning permission BEFORE the houses are built, whereas the travellers are applying for retrospective permission, if this is allowed and the land is suddenly worth many times the amount paid then everyone who owns greenbelt land will build, increase its value and sell on. I know I will be and then scream discrimination against myself citing Dale Farm as the example.

sean rua
Sep 12, 2011 20:56

But I don’t understand where was the so-called “Green Belt” in all this? Tecka is chatting about the scrapyard that the council used , and about an “industrial ” site.

It strikes me that if some rich tycoon wanted to put up some huge chicken sheds, the council would be all over him in exchange for a nice, hefty, “donation”.

As for Wolverhampton, I’m looking for a field for over ten years, but nobody will sell me one. Personally, i liked the old days when we could park up on the farms or common land. When the farmers mechanised and the developers took away most of the commons, our way of life was banjaxed, imo.
Nevertheless, you can take the man out of the bog, but you cannot take the bog out of the man. That’s what the old people said.
‘Tis all very sad and needless; I knows we cannot turn back the clock, but if the gorgers want to exterminate us, this ain’t a very nice way to do it. You house your murderers and sex-offenders and give them three square meals a day, yet your authorities hound us just for being who we are.
Then you tells us you’re collecting more taxes to fight for democracy in places most of ye have never visited!
I really cannot understand your strange customs. It seems to me the rulers do whatever they like to make themselves rich. Then you puts the blame on travelling folk.
By the way, I heard the head of Essex Council was just let out of prison early after frauding thousands off the people! Then you turn around and say we are looking for special treatment and that we are all scum and the like.
I think some of ye would be better for doing an odd shift on the tarmac barra. Maybe we wouldn’t have to hear so much puritans’ nonsense out of ye, if ye done a bit of work yourselves, instead of just begrudging everybody else.

Tecka
Sep 13, 2011 3:49

Sean, I’ve never said you were scum. I believe in your right to any lifestyle you may wish to lead.

The land the scrapyard was on was designated greenbelt in 1982 when the temporary licence ended, the rights or wrongs of this decision are not in question here (wrong in my opinion by the way) but I hope you understand why I certainly don’t want people to make a small fortune from taking the piss out of the planning laws. I 100% believe that the original people on the land knew what they were doing in this regard. If the people coming later were conned by Mr Sherridan (possibly true, as from what I understand he has personally make nearly £500,000 from splitting into plots and selling on) then I feel for you but if I got conned the council wouldn’t pay me a fortune to put it right, I would personally take the hit.

I didn’t bring up the industrial site the previous poster did. I simply pointed out that the brownfield site that the legal plots are on used to be industrial and this is why permission for the builds was easier to get.

The wolverhampton site is well documented, and if you are looking for land then I feel for you if no-one will sell to, I suspect the reasons may lie in some the hateful reasons that have been posted far and wide regarding Dale Farm and that is out of order. Have you tried getting a lawyer and buying by proxy to avoid this issue? It will probably work. I know there is racism directed to many travellers which is wrong but I don’t feel Dale Farm is an example of this, people are angry that planning laws have been violated and people are set to make a fortune out of it.

Try finding brownfield sites that need clearing and apply for planning permission the councils will find it much more difficult to refuse, and if the site needs clearing it will be cheaper and as proved at Dale Farm and by your work ethics which I’ve seen first hand you will clear it quickly and easily and create a legal home for you and your families. Play the council at their own game is what I’m saying, be clever which I know you are. Keeping this going for ten years proves that!

The only reason I posted was to point out to the so-called journalist that the story was factually incorrect in many ways.

Oh and yeah chicken sheds would probably get permission as greenbelt is agricultural land and keeping chickens falls within the remit for the land usage.

I work very hard on the farm I rent, and am helping a charity build an office and multi use playroom for kids in my spare time (with relevant permission), please don’t question my work ethic without knowing me.

I do honestly feel for the guys here but as a farm worker and avid conservationist I worry about the free for all on greenbelt if Dale Farm is allowed to stay, and yes I am also campaiging against the changes to legislation the government are trying to do. Even though theres a chance I could make a killing out of the changes.

Paul Bright
Sep 13, 2011 9:12

The REAL UK and the REAL Essex are OK and FOR GOOD !

Unfortunately there is a bad UK that is OK for human rights abuse
and deadly arms exports to dictators. The bad UK has sabotaged
the good UK in that CONDEM dictator David Cameron has grasped
his evil way up and into number 10 Downing street. this is NOT OK !

Join US here is the UK that is OK for good
We are for Churchill, world peace, love and
international friendship between everyone.

Good UK Churchill supporters are at odds with the
very bad current leadership and direction of the British
Conservative party that is a liability for British business.
On the 12th of September David Camerion betrayed the
shareholders of British petroleum as he failed utterly to
regain the trust and respect of Russian Prime Minister
Vladimir Putin and Russian President Dimitri Medvedev.
CONDEM Cameron was not even invited to stay the night.
Had the UK got an impeccable Human rights record and
especially if this applied to marginalised communities
like the Irish Gypsies, Travellers, Roma and others
then we would be respected in Russia. Russia is
not perfect, no country is, but Russia does
not and has never evicted Gypsies from
their own caravans ON THEIR OWN LAND.

Tecka
Sep 13, 2011 12:13

Paul,

It’s not about clearing people of their own land it’s about treating everyone equally when it comes to planning laws. This appears to be what the travellers are asking for – equal treatment, So when they are treated as equals in this matter it suddenly becomes about wanting special treatment.

Please see this article about gypsy persecution in Russia
http://www.romea.cz/english/index.php?id=servis/monitoring/m_en_2005_0046

Not at all sure why the Russian point was bought up anyway, especially when, as proved above, the lack of persecution argument was incorrect. Also whats the BP situation got to do with any of this anyway? I don’t happen to like the current coalition government, but bringing in factually incorrect arguments that have nothing at all with the situation is plainly ridiculous, try responding to what people are arguing against rather than stupidly bringing in non relevant arguments.

Or do you struggle when someone like myself who is essentially pro-traveller lifestyle argues in an intelligent, well researched manner for the eviction?

See the Telegraphs article on Camerons visit here.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/8757714/David-Cameron-in-Russia-who-said-what.html

Vladimir Putin, Russian prime minister:

“We are very glad to see you and this is the first visit by the PM of Great Britain in the past five years.

“I should say the trade and economic development over the past years has been developing very successfully.

“Last year GB was in first place among our trade and economic partners in economic investment.

“Even though the investments in the real sector of the economy are rather modest.

“In any case GB is our old trade and economic partner and we have lots to discuss.”

I don’t really see this as what you said :-

”David Camerion betrayed the
shareholders of British petroleum as he failed utterly to
regain the trust and respect of Russian Prime Minister
Vladimir Putin and Russian President Dimitri Medvedev.”

Please discuss the issues at hand and not irrelevant information just because you have run out intelligent arguments.

sean rua
Sep 13, 2011 21:43

Tecka,
thank you for your reply.
I partly understand some of your points, but I remain confused about this “Greenbelt” nonsense. The whole place smacks of being a “brownbelt” site, that suffered from “pollution” long before this became such a buzzword.

Years ago, when I could still work properly, we did a job at Birmingham airport. The main client was one of the big oil companies, and, as you can imagine, health and safety and general red-tape bullshit was the order of the day. The powers-that-be had designated the area as “polluted”; several dangerous toxins had been detected in the ground by tests.
As a result, while we worked in the ground ( we were miners), there had to be a “safety look-out or guard” on duty. His job was to pull us out and rescue us, if we were overcome by the chemicals, etc.
As it happens, he did have to pull me out later, as the ground fell in before I could get the supports in place! But that’s another story: the point is, imo, a lot of that land around Birmingham Airport would have been so-called Greenbelt” one time.
As anybody knows, this so-called sacred greenbelt gets breached time after time, when it suits certain powerful folk, who just happen – in most cases – to have the relevant councils under their thumb.
The whole planning thing in UK is a mockery – just like it is in Ireland, where, indeed, it is probably even worse.

Back to Wolver: very few of the sites the authorities would want a man to live on would be any good for keeping a few horses. I looked round and round, till I gave it up as a bad job. For some reason, people seem to think that we should be living on some sewage farm or old derelict dump, but, historically, we are a rural people that travelled about providing a service.
Greedy landowners took all the common land away and left us with no place to go that would be suitable for either our old way of life or for modern life. Sure, gorgers weren’t the only ones to play this game and, some travellers have, quite legally, done very well for themselves. I know of one builder in Shrewsbury that is a very well todo man. He still has a fine vardo near his big house, though. This is because he knows the right people after being years in business. He is accepted.
But If I, myself, tried to put a trailer on my own land, busybodies would be up in arms about it.

So I guess we can all feel sorry for ourselves, when it comes to planning and the like. Sure, nobody ever said life was fair, but, in my opinion, forcing families out of their homes ain’t the right way to do things. It’s going to cost everybody far more in the long run.

Btw, is your farm in the so-called “greenbelt” too? There seems to be loads of housing estates all round Basildon, and, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re planning to build a lot more when they can raise a bit of capital.

Tecka
Sep 14, 2011 0:24

Sean,

As stated in my reply I don’t really agree with the reclassification of land as Greenbelt, but I am also very aware that not the entire Dale Farm site was used as the scrapyard and much more of the land has been concreted over to create pitches.

The argument is valid to a point but more sympathy would be garnered had only the original yard been utilised and if the population of the site hadn’t jumped exponentialy since the original application for permission had been declined. This smacks of a piss take and is what has made people back the council in the matter.

I do understand that there is prejudice towards travellers (you only need to look at some of the bile written regarding this affair to see that), but I honestly don’t see the eviction notice in this case as being about race, its a planning issue (again the validity of the greenbelt is not in question here). The people who live on Dale Farm were more than aware that the pitches should not have been built, have expanded the site massively since being told in the courts that they should not have created pitches and stand to make a fortune if the permission goes ahead. This is why the majority of un-prejudice folk are for the eviction. Obviously the prejudice folk would be against it anyway but I for one do not even consider their views as even being worth reading let alone taking seriously.

Not sure if this has even been discussed anywhere, I have a friend who has built an eco-house in woodland. His permission states that once he or his family come to move off-site the building must also go as well. Is this something that the council and the travellers would consider as being an option? It seems to me to be a way of keeping the community together whilst still protecting the Greenbelt. Or as what is annoying people the most is the fortune this land would be worth with planning permission granted some kind of agreement whereby the travellers only pocket a small percentage of the profit with the rest going into the local economy i.e. schools, healthcare, conseravtion of the rest of the surrounding geenbelt with some going to the locals whose houses have lost masses of money over and above the general downturn in the market. (And I do understand that these loses are mainly down to the prejudice of people not wanted to be near traveller camps, but these loses are still valid)

Birminham Airport was operating before the first world war and was therefore in place before the greenbelts were even thought of, granted it was obviously not on the scale it is now but as the area needed more airport capacity the obvious answer is to expand an existing airport as this creates less impact, therefore planning permission for expansion onto greenbelt would be easier to get. btw getting pulled out of a mine as it collapses sounds horrific, a story I would actually quite like to hear over a couple of beers if we should ever happen to meet.

I personally don’t wish to see travellers on sewerage farms or old dumps but would like to see the law treating everyone as equals. I’m not old enough to truely understand the loss of the common land, I do remember seeing the odd horse on the commons round the Tipton and Dudley areas back when I was a small lad which does not appear to have access for these purposes anymore. I’m open to be educated and again feel for the folk who were impacted by this but I will never subscribe to past issues meaning that current indescretions should be allowed.

I don’t think families should ever be forced out of their homes, but these families were aware of the issues before the site was occupied and must have been aware that this would be the final outcome, I really do feel for the people onsite but do feel that some of this was bought on themselves. I do not mean this as an insult to the families there as I do understand that they did not really have much choice in the matter as there is no-where they are truely welcomed with open arms. This is mainly down to the few bad eggs in the community and down to the size of groups that the community travels in. (again no insult intended but I do hope you understand that a huge close-knit family group is intimidating to most of the population) I also feel to a degree that if the bad eggs were ostracised by the rest of the community then this would also reduce the prejudice against the entire population, but I have seen for myself that the good eggs tend to back the bad eggs regardless of what they have done. I do understand that this is the the norm in the community and is the right thing to do as far as families are concerned but sometimes the bad eggs go way too far and get the full backing of the community.

Finally yes the (rented) farm I work is on greenbelt and I would love to gain permission to build accomodation there to save a ten mile commute as it would mean I could increase the welfare of my stock, its horrible to get to work in the morning and find one of my cows stuck in a ditch bellowing when I know I could have got her out in the middle of the night had I been on site. I have even lost a few calves this season due to my not being allowed to stay onsite but this is something I have to deal with. I also own a section of woodland which I copice and manage for wildlife and again I would love to live on this stunning piece of land but understand why I will never get permission to do so.

I am definately not pro-government as they seem intent on putting me out of business by looking to scrap the red-diesel tax breaks for agriculture, when looking at my profit margins which are barely there at the scale as I operate on anyway, scraping this will send me under very quickly if not immediately. The only farming that will continue will be the large scale operators who don’t seem to give a flying f!*k about the welfare of their stock anyway! Anyway I digress slightly.

The hypocrisy on greenbelt planning changes in the light of Dale Farm are not lost on me, but as previously stated I am against these changes anyway. I truley hope that this unfortunate situation is resolved, unfortunately I can’t really see a way that this can be done without all parties losing out to a big degree. I think both everyone is digging heels in a bit deep for this to happen fairly now.

Thank you for a cool collected debate, something I haven’t really seen yet in relation to this issue.

sean rua
Sep 14, 2011 13:27

Thanks once again for your interesting reply, Tecka.
I’m a bit pressed for time right now as I’m trying to do some work between showers and gales of wind. If I get a chance I’ll try to add more later, but for now I find it interesting that the council wouldn’t allow you one of those shepherd hut trailers on your greenbelt farm. Just shows how the politically correct world has gone completely out of touch with the basic realities of life.
In the old days, there was nothing better than pulling into a glade near the orchards for a bit of fruit picking work. great to see kids, chickens and horses all running free!

Nowadays the grey suits that sit in these council offices just polishing their seats all day while they amass a huge pension ( all from taxpayers’ money, btw) have nothing better to do than pick on those they consider to be the asiest targets in society. Now that their silly system is falling to pieces, they cling onto their cushy numbers by taking a hard line agin the travelling folk.
I would love to know who is really pulling the strings behind the scenes and getting these puppets to dance such an ugly old dance. My guess would be powerful business interests who have instructed them to make a scapegoat out of the travellers to try to clear the way for more of their old frauds.

Btw, is it true that the leader of essex council has recently been let out of prison? Lord somebody or other?
As it happens, i found the real old toffs and gentry a far better lot to deal with than this modern day daily mail reading middle class. We weren’t so bad off when it was mostly just us and the gentry out in the fields. Once these housedwellers invaded the place, we were squeezed out almost, but not quite entirely.
Personally, i thinks we’ll be beat, but somebody has got to stand up to the bully boys. The whole point of planning is supposed to be to HELP people, not to make an even bigger problem. At the moment, it looks like overspill places, such as Basildon, cannot cope with their own social and economic weaknesses, sotheir rulers are trying to shovel all the blame onto the travellers. ‘Tis the same old story that comes out every time the economy goes bad.
Why can’t they leave folk alone?

Tecka
Sep 14, 2011 14:24

Hi Sean,

It is weird that I’m not allowed anything, although I do occasionally crash in the truck if I’ve sick or injured stock or I’ve had one the long days that sometimes comes from trying to keep a business afloat on stupidly tight margins, but my quality of sleep suffers and I’m not as efficient the following day.
It’s mental that I’m not allowed something slightly more permanent, I agree. But as a fan of the concept of greenbelt to protect the countryside as we know it I bite my lips and don’t rock the boat.

The reason I back greenbelt is for many reasons, I would have thought as you seem to herald the lost days of being able to park in farms whilst you complete temporary work then surely you would like to see the countryside stay more or less as it is. If the planning laws are relaxed expect many farms to become new estates, full of housedwellers as you call them, this is simple economics as I think we would both be on the line of thought that farming is these days a lifestyle choice not a way to make mega-bucks. (Sorry if I’m assuming incorrectly)

Something I’m getting a bit lost on is the ownership of the land, surely if the travellers own the land now, they will still do so after eviction. Or does the land revert to council to try and get some of the (plainly ridiculous) 18m costs back. I may be missing something here.

The former head of the council Lord Hanningfield (or Paul White, he shouldn’t be allowed to keep his tittle in my opinion) has just been released from prison for fraud, 9 weeks of a 9 month sentance takes the piss, he ripped us all of to the tune of £14,000 in the expenses scandal. The seat was faught in a bi-election and was won by Ian Grundy so the Lord is no longer the head of the council.

sean rua
Sep 14, 2011 23:30

Thanks for your reply again, Tecka.
The whole thing is starting to get me down now, especiallyt as it look like we are up against some ruthless convicted criminals ( Lord whatever and co).
However do these guys get to be in such positions of power?

Don’t bother telling me, as I have a pretty good idea.

It must be comforting for these people to be able to call on the services ofd these bailiffs (Constant of Bedfordshire), the police force and , ultimately, as in ireland the british army to back them up in their evil work,.
I still find it hard to understand how the british public can be so easily suckered by their antics, but I suppose scapegoating and pointing the finger at others is an age old tactic that has been used over and over whewre big money or land-grabbing is involved.

Sorry i’m so late replying. Some of us have work to do – including me , even though i am retired.

This idea of separating folk from their working place by silly laws is yet another example of the lengths some folk will go to to make life difficult for those who do a bit of actual work. I really hope the powers that be relent and allow you to stay on your farm. The damage done to the environment by your having to commute must be considerably more than would be the case if they allowed you to live at the work site.
I sincerely hope that the council see sense on your problem, yet somehow I very much doubt they will. Those string pullers are very powerful, and with the forces of the state behind them, I think they may be unstoppable.
There ain’t much justice in this world, but the old maxim ” possession is nine tenths of the law” probably holds good till the bully boys muscle in and take some other people’s possessions. If it wasn’t so wicked and sad, ‘twould make you laugh the rubbish they come out with to justify pushing folk out on the road, when they’ve already made darned sure there ain’t no place for us to go.
Sometimes I really despair, but I hope you keep your farm agoing, despite the silliness of the authorities.

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