The Travellers at Dale Farm in Essex have been given notice to leave the site by 31st August by Basildon Council, who are otherwise threatening forcible eviction. As the biggest Traveller site in the UK, it’s a fair bet that there will be significant media coverage and plenty of comment and opinion.
In the hope that coverage will at least start out as being accurate, here are Five Facts about Dale Farm. These aim to explain the background to the evictions as clearly and simply as possible so that reporters have an easy resource from which to start their stories and for commentators to hopefully get their facts straight before giving their opinions.
Dale Farm: Five Facts
There are Irish Travellers and Romani at Dale Farm
The site is predominantly occupied by Irish Travellers (and this means people who are ethnically Irish Traveller, not literally people who were born in Ireland), but there are also some Romani families there too.
Half of the site is a legal camp
Around half the Dale Farm site is owned by Travellers and it has planning permission for occupation as a Traveller site. The Travellers on this part of the site are entirely legal and are not the subject of the eviction process.
The other half is owned by Travellers
Although the other half of the Dale Farm site does not have planning permission, it was legally bought and is still owned by Travellers. So the eviction is taking place purely on the grounds of planning permission for residential use. It is not a case of Travellers occupying publicly owned land, or land owned by other people.
The purchase and application for planning permission followed Government guidelines
When the law was changed, removing the statutory duty for local authorities to provide publicly funded stopping place for Travellers, the Travellers were advised to manage themselves by purchasing land privately and then applying for planning permission. This was what Travellers staying on the second site at Dale Farm did. But planning permission was denied.
- The site was previously used as a scrap and breaker’s yard
Although the site is ostensibly on greenbelt land, the previous use of the land was as a scrap and breaker’s yard, which was not owned by the Travellers. This site received multiple warnings from the Council over its use, but was still given permission to operate and was not threatened with eviction.
For a fuller explanation of the issues surrounding the Dale Farm eviction and the latest news on the situation, please visit http://dalefarm.wordpress.com/