[Imc-uk-features] DALE FARM SHOWDOWN
dale.farm at ntlworld.com
Sat Oct 29 03:08:43 PDT 2005
DALE FARM EVICTION PLAN
RACIST SAYS COMMISSION
>From Grattan Puxon
01206 523 528
The UK Commission for Racial Equality will
tell the High Court in London next month that
Basildon council's decision to bulldoze Dale
Farm, Britain's largest Gypsy settlement,
is racially motivated.
Chairman Trevor Phillips says he intends
to ask the court on 29 November to allow CRE
to join with Dale Farm residents in their application
for a judicial review of the $4 million eviction plan.
At the same time, Tory MP John Baron, in
whose Constituency this virtual village has been
built, is asking Prime Minister Tony Blair to foot
the bill for what will be the costliest and most
heavily contested piece of ethnic-cleansing ever
attempted under a Labour government.
Lobbying to ensure final victory for the anti-Gypsy
camp, Baron is also meeting with Deputy Prime Minister
John Prescott on l7 November to urge him not to
grant retrospective planning permits for 85 chalets
and mobile-homes at Dale Farm.
The secret blue-print for the eviction, drawn up
by self-styled Gypsy clearance company Constant &
Co., was pushed through by Basildon¹s far-right
Conservative leader Malcolm Buckley against united
Labour and Liberal opposition.
Buckley has vowed repeatedly to rid the town of
what he calls unauthorised Gypsy caravans. Officials
put their current number at 220, most belonging to
the Sheridan clan.
"The courts can only delay this eviction by
making us re-consider," Buckley contends. "The
outcome will be the same and the sooner we get
on with it the better."
Two private yards at nearby Hovefields Avenue
have already been cleared, though Constant succeeded
only in moving caravans a small distance. The operation,
during which two women pro-Gypsy protesters were arrested,
was hailed as a prelude to the mother-of-all-evictions
at Oak Lane, Dale Farm.
A planning inspector has warned that the demolition
of so many homes within a village community numbering
over a thousand persons could take a week and escalate
into a civil riot. The policing bill alone has been put at around
Fire and rescue officers point out that entry of heavy
machinery could endanger children's lives and contravene
safety regulations. Trade unionists are being asked to
consider a boycott.
The Sheridan clan, who bought Dale Farm and converted
a car-wreck court into the original trailer park, are determined
to avoid violence. They have set up a meeting with neighbouring
house-dwellers at Crays Hill to try and sort out differences and
have lodged fresh appeals for planning consent.
But members have told the local press repeatedly that
they will not give up their homes and land without a fight.
Spokesman Richard Sheridan, who received a volunteer
of the year award at the House of Lords last week for his work
in the community, says Buckley¹s hardline racist attitude can be
traced to Conservative Party policy adopted before the last UK
On the eve of polling day, national party chief Michael
Howard stood at Dale Farm¹s perimeter fence for a photo-shoot,
pledging the Tories would take tough measures against such
illegal encampments around Britain.
In the past two years, hundreds of Gypsy families have
had homes bulldozed and their land seized. Several
thousand more face being forced back on the road simply
because planning permits have been withheld by prejudiced
local authorities like Basildon.
Before the expected showdown, Sheridan is going with
the UK delegation to the newly-created European Roma and
Travellers Forum, meeting in Strasbourg on l6 December.
Since the summer, the forum¹s emblematic Romani nation
flag has been flying over Dale Farm¹s scaffold defence towers,
surrounded by barbed-wire.
"We¹re making this stand against all the odds," says Sheridan.
"Not for ourselves alone but for Travellers everywhere
Through the forum, to which delegates from Europe¹s ten
million Roma in 40 countries have been elected this month, the
Sheridans intend to link up with Travellers threatened with eviction
elsewhere. They want Roma Nation Day on 8 April 2006 to be marked
all across the continent by demonstrations against ethnic-cleansing.
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