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Report from Dale Farm

As a volunteer legal observer at Dale Farm my role has been to monitor police and bailiff misconduct against residents and their supporters. There are many reasons why people have chosen to support Dale Farm but I felt compelled to do so because as a mother myself, I cannot justify the senselessness of the state forcing up to 200 children into homelessness for no better reason than planning considerations.

Dale Farm has been covered extensively by the press prior to the ‘eviction day walkout’ when the travellers and protesters, following a forced entry by police, symbolically walked out from the site in a show of solidarity. Frustratingly, it would seem that since the protest ended last Saturday, the mainstream press has wrongly assumed that the Dale Farm story has also come to a close. In fact, the eviction itself is very much continuing. Some live on designated ‘legal’ plots and others simply have nowhere else to go. Control of Dale Farm has largely been handed over to bailiffs and security guards, although there is still a police presence. Basildon Council has imposed virtual media blackout by refusing journalists entry onto the site – only allowing them into their ‘press compound’ – leaving events inside Dale Farm unreported.

Bailiffs are blocking observers from carrying out their activities and even decline them access to the site on ‘health and safety’ grounds despite the fact that the remaining residents and their small children are, for the most part, freely able to wander the site. I myself was three times prevented from filming events; colleagues were threatened with removal and others obstructed from entering for lengthy periods.

‘Heavy-handed and indiscriminate demolition’

Last Saturday (October 22nd) I returned as a legal observer. I was shocked to see that so many of the adult residents showed signs of injury – large bruises and cuts across faces and hands. By this point many (although not all) residents had been served with enforcement notices that they had 48 hours to remove their homes and belongings. Residents were still at various stages in collecting their own belongings and others had sold their chalets and outbuildings. The notice period due to expire the following morning was not honoured and by 11am the bailiffs proceeded with heavy-handed and indiscriminate demolition across the site.

Firstly the  chapel was gutted and ripped down. Fences and walls were demolished. Bailiffs dispersed to various properties and began trying doors and windows. Reports came to us from across the site of various actions by bailiffs quicker than legal observers could attend to them. A disabled female resident and her children spoke of being forced out of their home and when observers arrived, their window and front steps had been smashed. By midday there was a visible increase in bailiff and police presence as diggers were brought in to start the demolition which would continue for the rest of the day. Homes and outbuildings were removed or even flattened in front of residents’ eyes whilst they pleaded with bailiffs that arrangements had been made for their collection prior to the enforcement notice’s expiration. At one home the hard-standing surrounding a ‘legal’ structure was eventually demolished, leaving the owner distraught that his home appeared to be cracking and structurally unsafe. One digger proceeded to dig up ground and dump it into the neighbouring (partially legal) plot. From 1pm, contractors with covered faces driving 4×4 vans (licence plates removed) hooked up and drove away several caravans and chalets. Many residents were prevented from going into their properties to collect their belongings. Mothers with their children stood outside the remaining chalets in tears, attempting to comfort each other, whilst their husbands attempted to reason with bailiffs. Throughout the day police refused to intervene despite numerous request by residents and legal observers (including myself) for intervention regarding concerns about bailiffs’ breaches of the law.

I am concerned that current conditions have prohibited even-handed reporting of events at Dale Farm. For example, the female resident widely reported by the media as having a ‘minor back injury’ in fact has a fractured spine as a result of the forced entry of police into Dale Farm. She is forced to wear a large brace across her abdomen, and suffers continued impaired mobility. I believe that it is of vital importance that legal observers and the press be able to continue to do their jobs so as to be able to witness and shine a light onto events as they are truly happening at Dale Farm.

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10 Responses to Report from Dale Farm

  1. Terry Reply

    October 28, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    It is absolutely increduible that you have the audacity to write such utter rubbish. Im guessing the ‘rentamob’ thugs who were shown thrrowing rubble, brick, metal bars and even urine were in another part of dale farm that you happened not to see?
    200 children? No there werent
    fractured spine? load of rubbish – The hospital even confirmed there was nothing wrong with her.

    I have a lot of sympathy with the plight of the travellers, but sadly the activists, and people such as yourself spouting this rubbish have really let them down.

    • Jenny Reply

      October 30, 2011 at 1:06 pm

      It’s a shame that “legal advice” provided to the Dale Farm residents didn’t extend to how to live within the law. Some of the ex-travellers (mainly older ones, or those with children) clearly wanted to settle down into a permanent home and would have been better served by someone helping them to do this, rather than just encouraging them to fight the law and put their children at risk while taking notes about the process!

  2. Notgowervillalane Reply

    October 28, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    One sided by your own admission….

  3. Newshelving Reply

    October 28, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    Considering what they have done over the last 10yrs this is mild, also they could have moved off the site before & saved their children from the so called distress!

    • Sarah Reply

      November 1, 2011 at 2:29 pm

      what they have done then???? wat like try to make a home out of the only piece of land made available to them?? (an old contaminated scrap yard that nobody else would have taken on) disposed of the mess left there by the council, at their own expense and turned it into a clean bright pleasant home, asking nobody for anything except to be granted the planning permission that would have been given to anyone else were they not travellers….
      So called distress??? when you have been invaded at the crack of dawn by faceless riot police, with tasers and batons at the ready, being brutalised out of your home when you have commited no actual crime, and have nowhere to go, because those doing the brutalising have decided that you dont deserve to even be allowed to BUY urself a place to call home… THEN you can talk about distress! whatever children they could get out, they did! and the few that were left were safely taken to the legal portion of the site where they would be safe… only that was the spot that the riot police chose to smash through ILLEGALLY, then literally mow down innocent women and children, batons swinging, because the unarmed rabble of peaceful protestors were far to dangerous to face in all their sheilds and finery!… much better to go thru the kids dont u think?
      shame on you!! it is down to the blinkered, desensitised, and brainwashed like you that the government gets away with what it does… and i pity you, because once done with the travellers, when they decide that its your childrens rights they want to take away… maybe then there will be nobody left to speak out for them… left to the likes of you, we would be nothing more than slaves! as dispensable as cattle!

  4. Maria Kirk Reply

    October 28, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    The whole thing is a complete shambles. I feel so bad for the residents and wish that the council had the heart to let them stay. Thank you for reporting this and I hope to be able to help soon. I have been writing letters, blog posts ect but had no response.

  5. Anonymous Reply

    October 31, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    I wonder how many of the so called ‘commentators’ listed here have actually been put up to writing the drivel and scantily clad propaganda?

    The themes are identical to the relentless racism, lies & reactionary knee-jerk responses on Twitter.
    I cannot believe this isn’t part of a concerted campaign rather than ‘concerned citizens’ writing down how they feel.

    The amount of disinformation & MIS-information is astounding.

    That the mainstream Press has gone along with this racism is shocking. That Politicians such as Ed Miliband and David Cameron have gone along with it is appalling.

    This anti-Traveller mentality has in part fuelled and already reactionary crowd into thinking that their own racism towards Travellers and Gypsies is socially acceptable.

    I have been shocked by the huge numbers of people who refuse to believe that Irish Travellers are recognised as a distinct racial group under International Law. How is it that so many people can be so racist, ignorant and yet socially acceptable?

    The fact that Basildon Council under the misguided (so called) ‘Leadership’ of Tony Ball has spent some £18-21 MILLION on dealing with an issue which could have been peacefully resolved very simply is astonishing. That they were able to go to well known anti-Traveller MP Eric Pickles in his guise as Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and be given a handout of some £6million when the Government is saying that they don’t have any money to keep open Libraries or Leisure Facilities is nothing short of corruption!

    • Sarah Reply

      November 1, 2011 at 2:07 pm

      very well said, i have also noticed that they only print the anti traveller replies, i myself have written 2 replies to this report and at least 8 to 10 other reports over the time since the eviction… out of say 15 written veiws like these by myself, only about 3 have been printed… something tells me that propaganda reaches further than we think… and they deliberately silence those that might seek to awaken those entranced by their delusions of a ‘civilised society’….

      • Jon Robins

        Anonymous Reply

        November 1, 2011 at 2:24 pm

        Hi Sarah, if you can tone them down a bit – and I do appreciate the strength of feelings – then I’ll run them. Regards, Jon

  6. Alex Reply

    November 15, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    Reclaim Dale Farm: http://hitechworld.org/stoprisk

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