Dale Farm residents resist eviction & demolition plan

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A Thousand travellers and gypsies face the biggest mass forced eviction in recent history.

They are all being threatened with eviction from a town that they have built themselves on disused land outside of Basildon.

In what has been described as a ‘pogrom’, Eric Pickles, the Conservative MP for Brentwood in Essex is planning to launch a £10 million police operation to forcibly evict the travellers and gypsies from the land.

It will then cost Basildon Council a further £8 million to destroy all the houses.

Printed below are extracts from an article ‘Pickles Plans a Pogrom’ by Ian Abley.

Pogróm is a word with Yiddish origin, and is a Russian word meaning ‘to wreak havoc, to demolish violently, to destroy, or to devastate a town’.

Eric Pickles is planning to demolish, destroy, and devastate Dale Farm, on Oak Lane, Crays Hill, near Billericay.

Situated to the North of the now established ‘plotlands’ around the post-war New Town of Basildon in Essex, Dale Farm is home to around 1,000 people.

It is not a farm. It is a five hectare former scrapyard off the A127, outside the M25, owned by the Gypsies and Travellers themselves.

They have built their own bricks and mortar homes in around 100 plots, large enough to include caravan pitches for their families and friends.

The problem they have is that the Local Authority has never been willing to let Gypsies and Travellers stay to make something of this redundant Brownfield site.

The Dale Farm Gypsies and Travellers have shown how people can meet their own housing needs, if only the Local Authority will give them planning permission.

Now Basildon Council is planning to spend £8 million in demolishing their homes, plus the cost of policing the action.

The Daily Mail claimed that Essex Police has asked the Home Office for £10 million to cover that policing cost.

What kind of crazy planning tyranny is it when people – just like you and I – are prevented from planning and building a field of family houses for themselves?

Faced with a challenge to 1947 legislation, the planning system is acting desperately in forcing the demolition of the Dale Farm homes.

The coalition government has pledged up to £1.2 million to help Basildon Council clear the Gypsies and Travellers away.

Basildon Council had asked the department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) for £3 million to help fund an eviction.

It’s not the money but the bigger principle that bothers Eric Pickles, who is now going further.

He promises that the CLG will be consulting on new planning guidelines intended to strengthen the hand of Local Authorities in dealing with ‘unauthorised developments’.

Dale Farm may be unauthorised, but it is the Local Authority, the CLG, and ultimately Eric Pickles as Secretary of State, who refuse to grant planning approval.

If planning approval was likely this conflict would not exist, and 1,000 people would be left in peace.

Pickles is determined to clear the Gypsies and Travellers away.

He appeals to green ideologues, when the Green Belt that engulfs Dale Farm is waste land.

The Dale Farm residents face eco-elitism.

Many Gypsies and Travellers like to have large families, and look after each other, but their sociable culture is evidently at odds with the anti-human idea amongst greens that population growth is threatening the planet.

He encourages the local community to organise to move them on, and to use the police to forcibly clear their homes from their own land.

Pickles plans a pogrom against Gypsies and Travellers in 2011.

Gypsies and Travellers should be free to live on their own land without this sort of government-backed, locally perpetrated ‘community’ discipline.

The Dale Farm Gypsies and Travellers are clearly being singled out for having the strength to demonstrate their desire for independence.

In fact it is Pickles and his burdensome planning law that wants to keep them in a state of dependency.

As James Heartfield argued in 2008, we should all applaud and follow the example of Britain’s Gypsies and Travellers.

More urgently, the Dale Farm Gypsies and Travellers need to be defended against the destructive and socially divisive pogrom that Eric Pickles is planning.

These homes should not be demolished. ‘We’re not wanted anywhere. We’re not wanted in the countryside. We’re not wanted in the town,’ Candy Sheridan told The Guardian.

An Irish Traveller, and Vice Chair of the Gypsy Council 2010, she is busy trying to help others through the planning system.

‘Councillors don’t want to see us’, but ‘… we are part of the countryside and we have been for 600 years. We have more right to be there than they do.’

Britain should be pushing for a universal freedom to build, not forced demolitions, targeted against the few.

Don’t be fooled by the awesome mendacity of Eric Pickles. He’s got it in for Gypsies and Travellers, and they threaten his planning system.

Every planning initiative from this government and from the last one is in tatters.

Pickles has no plan to build housing, only punish Gypsies and Travellers who refuse to wait around for the planning system to allow house building. They won’t go easily, and they should be supported.

The CLG looks to be about to demolish more homes built by Gypsies and Travellers than they have managed to deliver through the entire failed Eco-Towns programme. The CLG should be ashamed of their record, and of what Pickles is doing in the name of the planning system.

Grattan Puxon, representing the Dale Farm Residents Association, wrote an open letter to Pickles on the http://lolodiklo.blogspot.com– an organisation dedicated to raising awareness about the history, culture and true lives of Romani people.

Puxon told Pickles that ‘…forced eviction is always an ugly action but when it’s being taken against ninety families of one community and those families belong to an ethnic minority, then there must be cause for concern, alarm and shame’.

But Pickles is shameless. He says he is acting for the environment and the community of Basildon. In reality he is acting on his own prejudices from within a coalition government sustained in power by Liberal Democrats.

It is time to stand in the way of Eric Pickles as he plans a pogrom in 2011

Hands off Dale Farm!