Constant & Co, the bailiffs appointed by Basildon Council to evict the families at Dale Farm will be a familiar sight to those who’ve watched My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding. One of the episodes of the Channel 4 series covered the eviction of the Hovefields Traveller site, also in the Basildon area. Viewers were shown footage of the bailiffs hauling an elderly and distressed woman out of their way like a sack of spuds and there were later reports that Travellers at the site were not permitted to retrieve belongings before the site was sealed off and residents moved on.
In July, Basildon Council, no doubt fearing a similar state of events at Dale Farm, where there are currently more than 100 children at risk of eviction, along with seriously ill elderly residents, attempted to source bespoke diversity training for Constant & Co. Whether they eventually found a willing provider, having been turned down by Traveller welfare groups such as Share remains uncertain.
What we can be certain of though, is that Constant & Co are using the negative publicity from programmes like BFGW to illustrate their experience in dealing with Traveller sites as part of their website and SEO (search engine optimisation) marketing. A look at their website shows that they list Travellers and squatters alongside each other on the same page. This, despite the fact that the Travellers at Dale Farm are not squatters and legally own their land.
What’s more, a look at the meta text from this webpage shows that amongst the search tags used by search engines like Google and Bing to index sites are terms including “travellers” and “gypsies” and a quick web search finds them advertising “gypsy evictions”.
Can you imagine the uproar if a company advertised “Black evictions” or used index terms like “gay” or “Pakistani” in the context of bailiff services? Perhaps they didn’t get that diversity training after all.
But more importantly, why is Basildon Council opting to use a company that they can’t even trust to do the job right without extra training, and that boasts of targeting a specific ethnic group in order to make a profit?
Perhaps Constant & Co provide exemplary client service? After all, their website boasts in its Local Authority section “Our early involvement in a consultancy role has assisted many councils.” So it appears that they are not only managing evictions, but also advising councils – possibly including Basildon for all we know – of how to get round those pesky human rights laws; to make it look like you’re giving alternative measures due care and consideration but still get that eviction in the end.
Funny – in the same week that Nadine Dorries and the Coalition Government announces that abortion providers can’t be trusted to provide pregnancy counselling due to vested interests, that they seem perfectly happy for bailiffs with a clear financial clash of priorities to advise councils on the welfare of hundreds, including children.