After all local taxi companies refused to come to the Traveller site on Oak Lane on Wednesday morning (except the Crays Hill School bus driver), eight women from Dale Farm and I endured a long journey on a protestor’s hippy bus to hear the tragic news that they had reached the end of the road at the High Court in London. The 25 Traveller women present at the hearing were bewildered and said that the proceedings and judgment “might as well have been in a foreign language”. I explained that they had been refused their final appeal to access an independent tribunal to consider their personal circumstances and human rights before Basildon evicts them from the land they own. The Court upheld previous rulings that stated that although there will undoubtedly be an interference with their Article 8 human rights if they are evicted, this is proportionate and justified in order to protect the greenbelt and traffic regulations. On the solemn journey home after the hearing, Margaret could not understand how “they think more of a former scrapyard and traffic than the human rights of our families.” We were all left speechless.I have been at Dale Farm every day since, filling out forms for the solicitor, explaining the current legal situation and discussing their options and, most importantly, spending time with the people who have come to mean so much to me over the past 3 years. The site is much busier than it would normally be this time of year, with everyone who was away travelling back to deal with the realities of the imminent eviction, media swarming, and activists building barricades and chasing off media. Despite this frenzied activity on the site, there is an overwhelming atmosphere of dismay and loss. All around, women are crying as they pack up the treasured contents of their soon-to-be-bulldozed chalets to put into caravans. These women are forced now to face the imminent reality of once again living on the road and endlessly being moved on, separated from their extended families and community, and with no proper access to healthcare or education.
Tragically, last minute pleas from religious leaders, the UN, the Council of Europe and Amnesty International for the UK government to consider the realities and human rights implications of this eviction have fallen on deaf ears. The UK government is ignoring its obligations under international law and fully supports Basildon Council’s £18 million eviction campaign that will make an entire community homeless and vulnerable and will offer no long-term solution to anyone’s problems.
In the UK, planning law is king.
Posted By Susan Craig-Greene
Posted Sep 4th, 2011