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Dale Farm: celebration over partial victory

By Grattan Puxon

After twelve years of perpetual campaigning families at Dale Farm were celebrating last night (11 Dec) following Basildon council's decision to grant planning permission for the building of a mobile-home park on ground nearby.

"We thank everyone around the world who has supported us," said Richard Sheridan, who chaired the Dale Farm Residents Committee until the eviction last year.

"But the fight must continue until all have a decent place to live."

Next Tuesday (18 Dec) the council's development control committee will vote on what line of action to take against a score of families who have been living on the private Oak Lane access road since their homes were bulldozed. They are under threat of some form of forced removal.

Although the new location will accommodate only 15 families and won't be ready for at least a year, the change in policy by what has been a consistently hard-line anti-Traveller local council is a huge break-through. It's only by coincidence that this u-turn occurred one day after UN Human Rights Day. The successful planning application by the Irish Travellers Movement for a site at Gardiners Way represents the fifth attempt by and for over 80 Dale Farm families who have, in many cases, never had a legal place to live.

Block applications for the 52 illegal plots at Dale Farm went through three public inquiries from 2004. An attempt to re-site the community in Pitsea, though backed by then Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, also failed.That was followed up by applications for other locations in the district, including Church Road and finally Gardiners Way. The latter was earlier rejected on a technicality before a fresh application was put together by the ITM.The new plan includes a community building and play area.

12 December 2012

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