James Dasinger

James Dasinger (Irish Travellers of Dale Farm, Dale Farm Housing Association): James received his Bachelor’s degree in International Studies with a regional focus on East Asia from the University of South Alabama. After graduating, he spent six years as a Chinese linguist and Intelligence analyst for the US Air Force. He was decorated several times for his service and held a Top Secret/SCI security clearance throughout his career. He was honorably discharged from the military with the rank of Staff Sergeant. On leaving the military he joined the Los Angeles chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War and served as its Treasurer. At the time of his fellowship, James was a graduate student in the Political Science department at California State University, Northridge.



Dale Farm Myths: Greenbelt II

25 Mar

One of the reasons sited by local authorities to evict Travellers from Dale Farm is to ptotect the integrity of the greenbelt. I showed in my last blog how the Dale Farm site was hardly pristine before the Travellers bought it.

However, to take a look at the other side of the coin, I decided to try to find out what happens to greenbelt land after the Travellers are removed? Are the local councils better stewards of the greenbelt than the Travellers? Do the benefits gained by evicting the Travellers (integrity of the greenbelt) outweigh the damage to families that are evicted on to the roadside?

I went to three sites of previous evictions; one near Cambridge and the other two here in Basildon District. Judge for yourself whether you think the results are worth it:

Smithy Fen, Cambridge:

Caravan wreckage at eviction site. Traveller’s homes are often damaged and sometimes destroyed during the course of evictions.

Rubble berms like this one are left around eviciton sites so that caravans cannot be pulled back onto the land.

Two views of an adjacent eviction site at Smithy Fen showing rubble banks and remains of concrete foundations.

This is a pitch which may suffer eviction in the next few weeks.

A small unnamed site off the A120, Basildon District:

In this case, it appears that the rubble of the site was collected into two large mounds and earth brought in to form the berms.

Hovefields Rd. Site, near Wickford, Basildon District:

These photos show a view of the large pit formed by the rubble berms that were erected. Water is beginning to form pools in the pit.

Views of another pit adjacent to the one above. The large white chunks of concrete that form the barricades are likely the remains of foundations, while the red bricks scattered about are the remains of decorative walls which ring some yards. This type of wall can be seen in the photos of Dale Farm from my previous blog.

The photos above are representative of what the people of Basildon get for the millions of pounds spent on eviction operations.

Since there are not enough sites in England for the Gypsy and Traveller population, the people who were evicted from these sites likely moved to another unauthorized site. Is greenbelt protected better by shifting people from site to site in an endless cycle of cost and destruction? Or is the better way to do as the East of England Regional Assembly has mandated and start designating appropriate sites for Gypsies and Travellers?

A resident of Dale Farm awaits the Bailiffs:

Posted By James Dasinger

Posted Mar 25th, 2008

8 Comments

  • Heather

    March 31, 2008

     

    James,

    This is a great blog. Some really interesting research. Would you be able to tell us the dates that these other sites were closed down? That way we can see how long they have been sitting like that! Thanks!

  • Pharty Politics

    April 1, 2008

     

    Such a one-sided argument.

    Firstly, it’s the travellers who leave the sites in such a tip. Recently, travellers squatted on private property (Paragon Office Supplies) and left the place in an absolute tip. Where’s your reporting on that?

    Guess who has to pay to clear the mess up? That’s right – the taxpayer. Not the taxdodging travellers.

    Recently, it was reported that traveller’s children weren’t attending school. However, their big argument for being moved is that their children would be denied an education. Farcical!

    Perhaps you should take your rose-tinted glasses off and see what really goes on.

    Essentially what you’re saying is that it should be okay for anyone to set up site wherever they like and do what they want once they are there?

    A bit like the Native Americans experienced you mean?

    Try righting the wrongs in your own country before sticking your nose where it doesn’t concern you.

    I’m afraid that the American obssession with Ireland doesn’t quite open its eyes to the darker side of that relationship does it?

  • Andrew

    April 3, 2008

     

    James,

    Has not occurred to your miniscule mind that maybe the people who made the mess should be paying to clean it up, rather than the innocent taxpayer?

  • james

    April 3, 2008

     

    @Pharty: Rubbish problems around temporary unauthorized encampments are a well-known problem. Government studies have shown that providing legal sites reduces that problem. Eviction and inadequate site provision exacerbates it.

    On the school issue, it is ignorant to think that any population of people can go from almost total illiteracy to 100% school attendance in a single generation. Again, government reports show that where Travellers have somewhere legal to live, rates of school attendance increase, as they have at Dale Farm. Improving the rates of school attendance and educational acheivement to equal the settled community is a long-term goal, which starts with having a secure place to live.

    I am not at all saying anyone should be able to set up site anywhere and do what they want, I am saying that adequate site provision is the first step in dealing with the secondary problems (rubbish, school attendance) associated with Traveller encampments. I ask you, why is meeting housing needs for settled residents considered a duty, while meeting housing needs for Travellers is considered a burden?

    @Andrew: Your statement is factually inaccurate on a couple points. As you can see from the Smithy Fen pictures and the A130 pictures above, those sites were left that way by the respective local councils after evictions were carried out. After an eviciton is carried out, that land is no longer the property of the Traveller who bought it. At that point it is the local councils who are the stewards of that land, since greenbelt is public land. That is why the responsibility for the greenbelt falls on the local councils (and thus the taxpayers) after an eviction.

    If you are concerned about the amount of your tax money spent on the “Traveller problem” then you should be a firm advocate for providing legal sites. For instance, Bristol, after providing enough legal sites, saw it’s enforcement costs drop to almost zero. Evicting Travellers without providing legal alternatives costs the taxpayers more money and exacerbates secondary problems, while providing legal sites reduces both.

    With respect, you are both missing the point of the photos entirely. The council’s argument for eviction rests on two pillars: integrity of greenbelt land and integrity of planning laws. If the council has allocated no money for greenbelt restoration and made no effort to restore the land to greenbelt, then that first reason carries no weight. Not wanting Travellers in your district is not a legal and actionable basis for eviciton. Integrity of greenbelt is. What I am trying to show is that councils are using greenbelt as a reason to evict, when in fact they simply want Travellers out of their districts.

    If any more evidence is needed, local councils have given planning permission on greenbelt to developers for shopping centers and sports stadiums. Basildon council is also likely to have to re-designate greenbelt in order to meet it’s need for 11,000 new homes for settled residents. In contrast, the amount of land needed to house all the Travellers in Basildon legally is miniscule.

  • Andrew

    April 4, 2008

     

    James, how is this so difficult for you to understand? The Irish tax dodgers made the mess, the Irish tax dodgers should pay to clean it up. If that means confiscating their property to obtain the funds to clean up their mess, then so be it.

    The rest of society is not exempt from the law, and neither are the Irish tax dodgers.

  • Pharty Politics

    April 7, 2008

     

    If I was an American then I’d keep my mouth shut regarding human rights issues when they have Camp X Ray on their doorstep.

    What about all their homes in Ireland, Businesses in France then James?

    You seem to have a typical Yank’s rose-tinted view of Ireland.

  • budgie

    April 16, 2008

     

    James,
    You are a fu$*ing mug. It’s the travellers that have left the site in an absolute mess in the first place. Every time they leave their camp sites all over the country they leave the countryside as a tip. And, as mentioned above, it’s the tax payers that have to foot the bill. This is why they are disliked. If they paid for some of their services that they use (and they do get them…education/benefits/ health) via tax then maybe we could understand them more. Instead the travellers show NO disrgard for the laws of Britain. Sadly the country is becoming a right piss hole, everyone is taking the piss out of a once proud nation. James, do you think these people could sponge of the US tax payer like they do here, do you think it would be tolerated? Would they get the free healthcare, rights to live where they like and trash every destination they go to? Do you think they would get away with the intimidation, violence, tax fraud in the states? Of course not, they would be booted out in a heartbeat (like they were from Ireland), sadly the UK isbeing taken for a bunch of mugs (the same way you are you fu*^ing idiot).

  • Owen

    September 3, 2008

     

    James, you argued the case reasonably and calmly. As you pointed out, everything starts with having a secure place to live.

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