As I was waiting for meetings to start, I had a chat with Dale Farm resident, John, who was showing off his boxing gloves and looking for bugs with his friends (John, John and Tommy) outside one of the industrial buildings from the old scrapyard. The building remains standing directly next to the small plot he lives on with his parents and sister. Of course, we didn’t talk about the eviction. Breeda, the mother of one of the boys, said “the young kids aren’t able to understand what’s happening and it won’t set in until the bulldozers come in, they are forced onto the road and they can’t go to the school they love anymore.” So we talked about the different kinds of bugs and worms they had managed to catch that day.
For me, the abandoned building they were playing in front of serves as an important reminder that this site was not a green field that was occupied and turned into concrete by the Travellers. The site was an old car breakers’ yard (at the end of a legal Traveller site), deep in concrete and in a bad condition when residents bought the land and moved onto it. As soon as you visit Dale Farm and have a look around, it becomes clear that this eviction can’t really be about the preservation of green belt. (See former AP fellow, James Dasinger’s account of what he deems “The Greenbelt Myth“.)
So, what is this eviction about? And why is the UK Government endorsing this extortionately expensive campaign by Basildon Council, which will make an entire group homeless and will offer no short- or long-term solution for the Travellers or for local settled people. Surely, John and the rest of the Dale Farm residents deserve an answer to these straight-forward questions.
Posted By Susan Craig-Greene
Posted Jul 10th, 2011