The committee on the elimination of racial discrimination for the UN has recently implored the British Government to suspend the planned eviction of over 400 travellers from the Dale Farm site in Essex, stating that an eviction would “disproportionately affect the lives of the Gypsy and traveller families, particularly women, children and older people”. It is a site that was established in 2001 and now houses approximately 400 people on 80 different “pitches”.
The same committee has stated that evictions would cause excessive hardship and that ‘culturally appropriate’ accommodation must be identified and provided before action can be taken.
The statement continues: “Travellers and Gypsies already face considerable discrimination and hostility in wider society and the committee is deeply concerned that this could be worsened by actions taken by authorities in the current situation and by some media reporting on the issues”.
Regardless, both the Local Council and British Government have so far maintained that the site, reputedly occupied illegally for over 10 years, must be vacated.
A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said: “The British courts have found that the developments at Dale Farm are in breach of planning law and Basildon District Council is within its rights to evict travellers from the site.
“It has taken 10 years of failed negotiations and legal process to reach this point, and the unprecedented level of unauthorised development on greenbelt land has severely damaged community relations.”
Earlier this week (Wednesday 31st August) the travellers failed in a High Court bid to stop the eviction, leading Basildon Council to issue a final plea for them to leave the site peacefully.
Instead, reportedly up to 2000 protestors have gathered in the camp and may stage a peaceful resistance to any attempts to relocate the group. It is estimated that the evictions could cost the area up to £18m, not to mention the cost of providing culturally suitable alternative accommodation.
To read about how legislatory changes could be set to make things harder for gypsy communities, click here .