Saturday, March 12, 2011
Council to spend £18m on eviction
Friday 11 March 2011
BY PADDY MCGUFFIN
A Tory council in Essex has sparked fury with its planned multimillion-pound eviction of one of Britain's largest Traveller sites.
Campaigners have vowed to support the Travellers in their fight to stop Basildon council's planned eviction of up to 400 people from the Dale Farm site.
The council will hold a meeting on Monday aimed at pushing through the eviction, estimated to cost £18 million.
Traveller and Gypsy groups argue that kicking dozens of families off Crays Hill would break human rights law.
Unison has also condemned the move and further argued that the stack of cash should be used to help the whole community as the authority plans to make 100 people redundant and slash public services.
The Travellers own the land and over 40 pitches on the site have planning permission.
The authority is seeking to remove a further 51 unauthorised pitches from the site, a former scrap yard.
Leader of Basildon Council Councillor Tony Ball said: "In 2001 we became aware that a number of Traveller families had started to develop land within the borough's green belt at Dale Farm. We served notice immediately and made it clear the council would not allow this to continue."
He said the council had tried to find a "peaceful resolution" but that now it had decided to "draw a line" under the matter.
But activists say the council has failed in its duty to provide an adequate number of sites for the Travelling community and that the eviction is politically and financially motivated.
Joseph G Jones of the Gypsy Council said: "The council has not complied with government guidelines to provide pitches. It has neglected its obligations to the Gypsy and Traveller community.
"Our position is that forced evictions are always against Article 8 human rights (private and family life). We believe there should be a moratorium on financially motivated evictions."
Unison eastern region spokeswoman Debbie Dougan-Turner told the Star: "We believe Basildon council has a duty to make sites available for the Travelling community.
"It is disappointing that council is choosing to use council tax payers' money on this eviction and legal costs rather than providing adequate services for the whole community and jobs for our members."
Posted by Morgan at 9:51 AM