Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/686/12819
12th hour reprieve for Dale Farm
Dave Murray, Basildon
At 4pm on Monday 19 September the tense stand-off, between bailiffs on one side and Dale Farm Travellers and their supporters on the other, gave way to jubilation and relief as news arrived that the High Court had granted an injunction to stop Basildon council's forced evictions until a further hearing on Friday.
The eviction had been due to start at 8am, but bailiffs had held back in the face of the obstacles that had been prepared for them. Many brave individuals had "locked on" to various structures on the site: one woman shackled herself to the gate by the neck.
Shortly before the news of the injunction arrived, a bailiff approached the gate to make a statement expressing concern for the safety of the protesters and the stability of the gate, and requesting that it be taken down. After getting a fairly sharp answer, he withdrew, his next move stymied by the court decision.
The residents of the site have faced an uncertain time. Though the Travellers' representatives have been extremely resourceful in their use of legal challenges and though many Travellers are heartened by the presence of the supporters around "camp constant", there is no doubt that Dale Farm residents feel the threat of eviction keenly.
"It's humiliating," said Mr Quilligan, long time resident on the site, "if we aren't allowed to stay here, on land we own, where there already is an official site that no one has a problem with, that used to be a scrapyard, then where are we supposed to stay?" Attempts by Travellers' representatives to identify other suitable sites have met a stone wall from Basildon council.
Monday's judgement requires bailiffs to give residents a plot-by-plot account of how they will proceed with the evictions. Finding that the council's actions "went further" than the legal orders it had obtained, Justice Edwards-Stuart stated that: "It is in no one's interests that we have a riot on this site."
The sensible first step here would be to let the Dale Farm Travellers stay on what is, essentially, a brownfield site. Next, the authorities would need to wake up to the fact that there is a shortage of authorised sites caused entirely by their own policy of allowing local councils to duck their responsibility to a whole section of the population.
With £18 million budgeted for the eviction it is more likely that Basildon council will press on, with government backing, in its campaign against the Dale Farm Travellers. It must be resisted.
More info: http://dalefarm.wordpress.com/
In The Socialist 21 September 2011:
Building for 30 November strike
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party feature
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party workplace news