Dale Farm: 10 Years… and 10 Days Down The Line

After failed attempts by many UK human rights campaigners, the residents of the Dale Farm Travellers site were forced to evacuate their homes on the 20th October. The decade-long battle saw Basildon Council,Essex, fork out £18m in order to ensure the 86 Irish Traveller families vacate what they had come to know and love as their home.

The conflict started in the 1980’s when two traveller families won an appeal against Basildon District Council for planning permission on the southern end of the site. However, the influx of Irish travellers soon grew and they were found to be in breach of their contract. In 2001 the first enforcement notices were served.

10 years down the line, tensions and conflicts reached their peak and on the 19th October Essex Police began an operation to clear the site in order to allow bailiffs contracted by the local council to carry out the forced eviction. Human rights activists became heavily involved with Amnesty International stating “We are outraged at Basildon Council’s decision to ignore the advice of Amnesty, a wide range of UN and Council of Europe bodies and experts, and other UK-based civil society organisations about the human rights impact of these evictions.”

The residents had issued a statement outlining their intention to walk out peacefully,although due to the expectations of the police, things soon became less than dignified. Essex police have said that they made 34 arrests at the site for offences including violent disorder, obstruction and breach of the peace, however a police spokesman stated that all arrests made were not on travellers, but activists who were campaigning at the farm.

On the 29th October, just ten days after the initial eviction, and the now well-known faces of the Dale Farm travellers can be found a mere 50 metres away from their original site, a place that is apparently legal for them to stay. However it has been said that another legal scuffle is on the cards and with vice-chair of the Gypsy Council, Candy Sheridan saying “We’re all still here”, this seems imminent.

Written by Katie Lee

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