UK gypsy homes bulldozed as UN deadline approaches

Report by Grattan Puxon

Bulldozers are at work demolishing Gypsy homes even as a UN deadline approaches for Britain’s reply to a demand that it call off the massive Dale Farm eviction operation aimed at clearing ninety families from their land.

Half a dozen vehicles carrying demolition workers entered Dale Farm yesterday morning apparently to scare residents there only then to be re-directed to nearby Hovefields. Here Travellers were given one hour to pack up before the destruction commenced.

“Small children were running around the digger,” reported Malcolm Tully, a member of the New Life Church. “Neither the bailiffs nor the police showed any concern for their safety. The law was clearly being broken.”

Complaints were lodged immediately with the UK Health and Safety Executive which has begun an investigation. But demolition continued and by the end of the day several Gypsy-owned properties, most vacant, had been rendered uninhabitable.

However, lawyers prevailed upon Basildon District Council to stay the demolition of Five Acres Farm whose owner is in a London hospital receiving treatment for heart disease. His wife returned to the site soon after bailiffs arrived only to find water and electricity supplies broken.

The day before, Romani landowner Sylvia Taylor had contacted the BDC and received an assurance no action would be taken until a 28-day warning notice had been issued. In the event, while mayhem continued in the vicinity, her property was saved from immediate wrecking on the appeal of her advocate.

One lawyer, who participated in last week’s top-level meeting with Essex police, expressed regret that the achievements of those talks appeared now be in doubt. He stated that any substantiated claims involving criminal activities by bailiffs, in particular breaches of safety law endangering children, must trigger a formal complaint.

There is no doubt that this cowboy-style eviction was the outcome of pre-planning in place for sometime. This adds to the suspicion voiced only a week ago that Basildon District Council, which has hired Constant to drive all so-called illegal Gypsies from the district at a cost of four million euro, is engaged in what amounts to a criminal conspiracy.

Under urgent action procedure, Anwar Kemal, chair of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, has called upon Britain to suspend the planned Dale Farm eviction and instead to engage in talks with the community leading to provision of suitable alternate accommodation.

He says according to information received Constant & Co has been responsible for rough evictions of other Romani and Traveller communities, during which private property has been destroyed and racial abuse aimed at the residents. The company has drawn criticism from the High Court.

“Might your Government decide to nevertheless proceed with the intended eviction,” Kemal writes, “It should be carried out in accordance with international law and accompanied by relocation to a designated alternative site.”

The British Government has been given until 30 July to reply to this request.

2 July 2010

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