Dale Farm Travellers’ eviction postponed

The Travellers allegedly living “illegally” on Dale Farm in Norfolk – land that the travellers own – were due to be evicted today by Basildon Borough Council.  But a last-minute high court injunction has prevented the bailiffs from moving in until at least Friday, when a further high court hearing is to take place.

Mr Justice Edwards-Stuart also ruled that Basildon Borough Council cannot disconnect the site’s electric and water supplies after the travellers’ representatives said that disconnection would endanger the health of sick people living there.

This decision is a victory for proponents of law and order.  Basildon Council planned to enter the farm by force and destroy all of the plots on that land, even though Basildon’s enforcement notices do not give the bailiffs that power. The case hinges on the argument that residents have not been sufficiently informed about what is allowed on each pitch, and what must be removed., and the judge has ruled that this must be made clear so the travellers have the chance to abide by the enforcement notices before the bailiffs move in.  The judge was also concerned that these details had been withheld from the travellers so the bailiffs could just go in and destroy everything.

Another shock revelation is the fact that the United Nations had offered to help negotiate a “less dramatic” solution, but the offer was refused by the British authorities.  Jan Jarab, the European representative of the UN high commissioner for human rights, told the Guardian:

“There was communication between the British government and our headquarters, but it was made clear to us that we would receive a letter that that offer was rejected.

I understand that unapproved development of sites can be problematic for local residents – but the the Dale Farm site was previously a scrapyard!  Are heaps of rusting car parts and washing machines really preferable to homes?

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