“Well, what did you think? Any good? Think this fellow is going to be able to do anything for us?”
After loosening my tie, heaving a long sigh and sitting down next to Richard inside his caravan, I collected my thoughts about the meeting I had just attended before saying anything.
Read a recent story about me in a local British newspaper. Photo Credit: Echo
I had just returned to Dale Farm from a meeting with the East of England Regional Assembly’s planning manager to discuss the organization’s efforts at identifying the total number of sites that Essex County needed to construct to accommodate its existing Traveler population.
Initially, I had viewed the meeting as significant demonstration of the British Government’s determination to adequately asses the living needs of Travelers. I became even more enthused after the planning manager told me that the initial estimate the Assembly had come up with for Travelers sites in the county was 1220 pitches, including 157 in Basildon District.
My emotional bubble soon burst, however, when the planning manager informed me that it would not be until mid-2009 that the Assembly’s findings would be presented for approval to the Government.
Unfortunately, by mid-2009, Dale Farm may no longer exist.
Even more discouraging was when the planning manager informed me that the Assembly had little to no power it could wield in order to persuade local councils to grant temporary planning permission for Traveler sites before its findings were approved by the government.
When the meeting had finished, I left wondering why I had even come at all. Not only is the Assembly’s timeline for the completion and implementation of its Travelers’ housing needs assessment too long, but it offers no intermediary mechanism that can be implemented to stop forceful evictions which may occur before legislation on the number of Traveler pitches is established by the British government.
The most frustrating aspect of the meeting, and that of the saga that has been built up around Dale Farm, is that the British government, either at the local, regional or national level, has failed once again to either empower or create institutions that can effectively intervene to curb the inordinate amount of power that local councils wield in issuing evictions of Traveler sites.
While surveys enacted by bureaucrats are a positive sign and demonstrate that the British government is taking a serious look at Travelers, they fall maddeningly short of issuing any of the requisite powers needed to stop forceful evictions that may occur on Traveler sites before mid-2009.
As long as surveys are issued that lack the political clout necessary to grant temporary cessations in eviction proceedings, local councils will continue to move unabashedly toward removing Traveler sites from their districts.
Thus, Traveler communities are left in the inauspicious position where they started: alone and forced to band together and rely upon one another for collective security.
Looking up to see Richard staring me patiently while he awaiting my response to his question, I could only give him a brief description of what I thought about the meeting.
“Richard, it looks like it is going to be business as usual.”
Posted By Zach Scott
Posted Jul 23rd, 2007
August 21, 2007
I applaud your efforts with the community and it’s nice to see the other side of the coin. I have no problem with real traveller communities. Richard Sheridans’ lot are dispised more by the settled gyspy communities in Basildon.
Such future land purchases by gypsies must be heavily scrutinised in the future to stop a repeat of this disastor, it has become far too expensive.
Tell me Zach, is it true that some Dale Farm travllers own mutliple home in England and Ireland, work whilst claiming benefits (and having huge bank balances, you said they were smart buisnessmen). This is what the average Joe does not like, widespread community thievery. They hate England and it’s laws and we as Basildonians find it all a bit too much. If the report is worng and they are not wealthy, have no assets then maube they have a right to settle, but if they own large swathes of land in Ireland (council houses in Wolverhampton) then maybe I have no sympathy. If they weren’t so violent that would be a plus for sympathy.
August 21, 2007
zacg, I live in Rockville MD (from Pitsea)…maybe one day we could meet and talk about our respective viewpoints?
September 6, 2007
Quote from Melissa
“It is a bit of a cruel irony that so much criticism from the public of Traveler communities cites the fact that they keep to themselves and do not integrate well with their surrounding communities.”
NO, the fact they steal and abuse them is the reason why they cant integrate, no irony involved.
I would like to know why Zach is so keen on defending them but so reluctant to listen to evidence from the other side
Taken from our local newspaper from a man living near the site:
“He said: “After Tommy (spaniel) was stolen we put up missing signs.Weeks later a farmer from Kent who goes to Barleylands Farm Shop saw one.
“He got in touch and told me he had been offered my dog for sale by travellers. They later told him they were going to shoot it if we didn’t buy it back. My wife and stepson went down and paid to get him back.”
The crime spree includes: l August 31, 2007 – Motorcross bikes stolen l May 2007 – attempted theft of £60,000 Audi l February 2007 – building equipment stolen l December 2006 – garden equipment taken l October 2006 – attempted theft of van l June 27, 2006 – dog stolen.
Mr Dunn said: “My drive is regularly used as a roundabout. I have been told to f*** off on my own drive.””