Today, I received the call I’ve been dreading since I started working with the Travellers at Dale Farm. Michelle, one of the residents, rang to tell me that Basildon Council (BDC) was at the site, issuing the 28-day notice letters. I headed down there, hoping that it was just another of the many false alarms we’ve had over the years. As I approached, I could see the women of Dale Farm gathered underneath the “We Won’t Go!” banner that marks the entrance to the contested yards. People were understandably distressed, scared and angry. Noreen handed me the letter and asked me to read it aloud, which confirmed that BDC had handed them their notice, giving them until 31 August to leave their homes before a September eviction.
Basildon Council is ignoring the undeniable toll this eviction will take on the lives of these women and their families. There is no question that by evicting these individuals from the homes they have made at Dale Farm over the past ten years, BDC will be making them homeless. There has been no attempt by the BDC to find culturally suitable alternative accommodation for even the most vulnerable residents. BDC admits its legal responsibility to find alternative school places for children and alternative medical services for those who need it, but is forcing an eviction that will make these commitments impossible to satisfy. Margaret asked me how, if homeless and on the road, she was going to find a suitable school place for her son with Down’s Syndrome, who is currently well cared for at the Pioneer School in Basildon. Jeany asked me how she was going to attend doctor’s appointments for her heart condition and have much-needed operations on her spine and hip if she is forced onto the road with nowhere legal to stop.
These human beings will not disappear once evicted. The humanitarian impact will be massive, and BDC will be responsible for a community of people, homeless, with no reasonable access to the education or healthcare that are their basic human rights.
Posted By Susan Craig-Greene
Posted Jul 4th, 2011