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Rejection of alternative site by Pickles leaves Dale Farm community in ‘desperate conditions’ 02/03/2012

Traveller Solidarity Network

For further comment, call 07729762059

Basildon Council and the Department for Communities and Local Government have rejected an appeal by homeless Dale Farm residents for planning permission on a nearby alternative site.[1] The rejection comes days after the EU commissioner for human rights criticised UK authorities for the ‘deeply regrettable’ eviction at Dale Farm and called for an ‘end [to] be put to violations of the right to adequate housing of Travellers in Basildon’.[2]

Since the eviction, the Dale Farm community have been living in dangerous and overcrowded conditions on the road leading to their former home and on friends’ pitches on the authorised part of Dale Farm. However, rather working to provide alternative sites for the 83 homeless families, Basildon Council has declared its intention to begin new eviction proceedings as soon as possible.[3]

Former Dale Farm resident, Mary Sheridan, said, ‘We’re living like refugees here – there are young children, sick people, old people, trying to survive in desperate conditions. All we’re asking for is a bit of land so that our kids can go to school and the sick can get cared for properly. But rather than helping us, Basildon Council seems to just want to push us out onto the road. It’s an absolute disgrace.’

Ali Saunders, a member of the Traveller Solidarity Network, added, ‘This week, the EU commissioner condemned the abuse of the rights of Travellers and Gypsies in the UK. At Dale Farm we see the consequences of this systematic discrimination. Pickles’ so-called localism is leading to expensive and brutal forced evictions that create more problems. Instead, the UK government should be providing solutions through a joined-up strategy for creating more sites and ending discrimination in the planning system.’

This week, lawyers for the Dale Farm residents brought a case to the Court of Appeals arguing that the displaced Travellers have a right to be housed in ‘culturally appropriate accommodation’ by Basildon Council, rather than being forced into council housing.[4] The verdict is expected soon.

ENDS

Notes to the editor:

[1] http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/uk/dale-farm-travellers-lose-site-bid-16125425.html.

[2] Full letter here: https://wcd.coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?Ref=CommDH%282012%2914&Language=lanEnglish&Ver=original&BackColorInternet=FEC65B&BackColorIntranet=FEC65B&BackColorLogged=FFC679

[3] Basildon Council’s statement on further eviction: http://www.basildon.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=3978

[4] A briefing on the case:

http://travellersolidarity.org/2012/02/29/briefing-landmark-dale-farm-homelessness-case-at-court-of-appeals-this-week/

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