One of the main domestic issues taking up a great deal of media space, at present, is the removal of the ,of 51, so-called ‘ travellers’, illegally occupying the Dale Farm site, in Basildon Essex.
Some of these families are indeed regular gypsies but the bulk of them are people have just chosen that way of life. But whether travelling comes in I’m not sure as most of these people seem to be permanently encamped on this site.
This removal issue has gone on for over 10 years. The original site, which was occupied illegally by 37 travellers , was subsequently granted planning consent for such occupation. Then an adjacent scrapyard came up for sale and was bought by one of the travellers who subsequently allowed more and more of his family and friends to fill the site until they were 51 families there. A number of these travellers subsequently built semi-permanent dwellings on this site, all without planning permission. Basildon Council have been battling away for 10 years .one more, in and out of the courts, to have them evicted. Although the estimated cost of doing so is estimated at Â£18 million the Council considers that it must proceed with the eviction to prevent creating a precedent for building Green Belt land.
The travellers say they have nowhere to go and refuse to move. (Do they pay community tax or income tax. They certainly do work for cash and use all the facilities such as education and medical). Barricades have been erected and up to 100 supporters have built their own fortified camp on the site, I suspect many of them being people who like a good scrap and they will be the ones who will cause most of the difficulties if and when it comes to the actual eviction. Even the United Nations have become involved on the grounds of ethnic cleansing, which, of course, is complete nonsense. The United Nations would serve society far better if it were to concentrate eliminating the Somali pirates and bandits who live openly in an ostentatious style paid for by their ill gotten gains. There have also been some people who say that by forcing them to move we are infringing their human rights if you take that argument to its logical conclusion persons human rights would have precedence over most legislation that has been passed in order to protect society as a whole.
According to the various television programmes that I have seen, dedicated to this issue, all of these 51 families have been offered alternative accommodation but have rejected it on the grounds that it is ‘culturally unacceptable’. In other words they prefer living in caravans. One programme that I saw showed that a great number of these so-called travellers actually own some beautiful villas in a village in Ireland where 80% of the houses, in that village, are owned by them.
The bailiffs and police have been ordered to evict these travellers using the minimum of force necessary but inevitably some people are determined to make trouble and there are one or two elderly sick people amongst the travellers who will have to be dealt with even more carefully than the others. These supporters, many of whom,, as I say, I suspect are troublemakers who move from one demonstration to another , will undoubtedly cause the most trouble. Some of them have chained themselves to immovable objects and one man has concreted his arm inside a 44 gallon oil drum. The evictions were meant to start yesterday but, almost unbelievably, the High Court granted a last minute injunction on a new ground raised by the travellers which will be challenged by the local Council in court on Friday
I cannot see any way that the Council can give in on this issue. Once you allow any single person to build on Green Belt land then the principal precedent is established and our beautiful countryside could be ruined by ribbon development adjoining village and town. There have been numerous examples in the past where people have constructed a building without planning consent and it almost always ended with the property being demolished.
Watch this space!