Today officially marks 28 days until the final deadline Basildon Council has given the Travellers to leave their homes and community behind.
It has been a busy week at Dale Farm. Not only do there seem to be members of the media swarming the site at all times, but there have been several noteworthy meetings. On Tuesday, the planning application for a site in Laindon that would be able to accommodate some of the residents was refused after 1200 local residents launched a protest against it. The Planning and Development Control Committee also met to consider the personal circumstances of 8 of the most vulnerable residents. Even after looking closely at the reality facing individuals with severe illnesses and special needs, they voted again overwhelmingly to not make any exceptions and to go ahead with the eviction. (See BBC article.)
This was generally the message at the 2 subsequent meetings we had with Basildon Council this week. I welcome the fact that Essex Police and key members of the team at the council came onto the site and met with Candy Sheridan and Ann Kobayashi and myself in the newly established office. It was a breakthrough, in many respects, and it is important to keep the lines of communication open. The main topic on my and the Travellers’ minds, however, is the only topic that cannot be discussed at these meetings; finding an alternative solution to this eviction.
Similarly, today, Candy and I met with Homelessness Officers at Basildon Council offices to attempt to work together to progress the Travellers’ homeless applications. Again, this was very useful from an administrative and communication point of view, but the reality is that, even in the best case scenario for the Travellers, at the end of this process they will be offered culturally unsuitable accommodation.
The clock is ticking for the Travellers at Dale Farm and it is unimaginably devastating for me to realise that, in 28 days’ time, this community could be torn apart and gone forever.
Posted By Susan Craig-Greene
Posted Aug 4th, 2011