Parliamentarians visit Dale Farm as second eviction looms
Almost a year after the Dale Farm eviction in October 2011, Dale Farm families are facing a second eviction. Basildon Council served enforcement notices on the homeless families on 24 July 2012. The planning inspectorate yesterday refused to hear an appeal by the residents, who argue that they have ‘nowhere else to go’, opening the way for a further forced eviction. Lawyers for the Dale Farm families are currently considering a Judicial Review of the rejection of the appeal. They have three months to respond by law.
Since being evicted from their own land in a huge policing operation in 2011, the homeless families have been living on the private road leading to their former home. Increased illness has been reported by families living with no running water or electricity supply next to the evicted site, which has filled with raw sewage, toxic waste and rats. The Environmental Agency has recently taken samples to test for asbestos. 
Today, members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gypsies, Roma and Travellers, Lord Avebury and Andy Slaughter MP, alongside the Irish Traveller Movement for Britain and the Red Cross, visited Dale Farm to speak with destitute families and witness conditions on the site. 
Speaking from the site, Lord Avebury said, “Not only are people living in the middle of a bomb site, but also there are lots of families suffering extremely severe health problems… we found a neglect of public health provision to the site that warrants the severest criticism. It is a stupendous piece of folly to continue to remove these families from one unauthorised site to yet another, at a cost of yet more millions of pounds. We will report back on the agonising conditions families are enduring, and we are hoping to meet with John Baron MP and Councillor Ball to see if we can come up with any ideas other than pushing these families hopelessly from one roadside to another.”
Basildon Council has failed to provide alternative sites for the displaced residents, rejecting numerous applications for planning permission over the years, including offers of free land by the Homes and Communities Agency.  The Irish Traveller Movement in Britain is currently backing an application that could house 15 of the most vulnerable families if successful. 
Mary Flynn, a Dale Farm resident with four young children now facing life on the road, said, “Why would we stay here if we had somewhere else to go? It’s a struggle for survival every day here, but Basildon Council are determined to hound us out of the borough. We want the same things as everyone else – somewhere safe to live and an education for our children – but because we are Travellers, we face eviction after eviction. There are young children, sick and elderly people here: what is going to happen to them if Basildon Council evicts us?”
Ali Saunders, from the Traveller Solidarity Network, said, “One year after making 83 families homeless, Basildon Council are still vindictively harassing the Dale Farm community. Basildon Council has completely failed to provide Traveller sites in the area, despite long-standing need, so it is galling that the planning inspectorate has refused to even hear the appeal against eviction. Expensive forced evictions, like the one we saw last October, can only lead to more evictions. Granting planning permission for sites would provide a sustainable solution and cost them nothing: the Homes and Communities agency are offering the land for free. Basildon Council must start choosing constructive solutions instead of costly, confrontational and destructive evictions.”
 See Environment Agency press release, 6/08/2012: http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/news/141907.aspx.
 See Irish Traveller Movement in Britain press release, 28/08/2012: http://irishtraveller.org.uk/irish-traveller-movement-in-britain-optimistic-about-new-plans-to-accommodate-homeless-dale-farm-traveller-families/.