The latest round of legal battles are over between the Travellers of Dale Farm and the Basildon District Council. The high court review of the Basildon Council’s decision to evict the Travellers came to an end on Thursday.
Once again the Travellers from Dale Farm bussed down to the High Courts for the last day of deliberations. Although the Traveller contingent was not as large as on Monday, all the Travellers that made the trip packed in to the courtroom.
There were so many that at one point the judge stopped the proceedings and made seats available right in front of the bench as well as having extra chairs brought in so that all the Travellers could have a seat.
Over lunch one little girl had insisted that her mother buy her a heart-shaped Valentine’s Day balloon. The judge noted the little girl with some amusement. Whatever the judge decides, he was certainly aware of the people his decision would be affecting.
I don’t have too much to add to my previous impression of the legal case. The question seemed to be not whether the Travellers could stay at Dale Farm, but whether the council has a responsibility to provide alternate temporary sites for the Travellers until a housing assessment is completed in 2011.
One interesting exchange came when the subject of discrimination arose. With a reporter from the Basildon Echo in the courtroom, the judge described the previous media coverage of the Traveller issues at Dale Farm as “poisonous.”
The judge added that to whatever extent such coverage was encouraged or sourced from members of the Basildon Council, that such conduct from council members was “irresponsible.” The judge once again said that there would be an inquiry into the conduct of evictions by Constant & Co. and that hopefully the police would be more cognizant of their duties in preventing the kind of conduct by private bailiffs seen during previous evictions.
Overall, I predict that neither side is likely to “win” in the sense of getting exactly what they want. The Dale Farm residents may not be able to stay at the Dale Farm site, but neither will Basildon be allowed to simply get rid of its Traveller population through forced evictions.
It is perhaps instructive that so much time, energy, and legal ink has to be spilled in order to tell two sides that they need to sit down and compromise. Had an enlightened policy been pursued from the beginning, there would likely be no “problem” at Dale Farm.
Posted By James Dasinger
Posted Feb 15th, 2008