Tag Archives: travellers

Gypsy Forum News Update

STOP BURNING AND LOOTING, SAYS FORUM

By Grattan Puxon

A gap in new Government policy allows UK local councils to continue with impunity their hounding of Britain’s 60,000 Travellers, according to a report submitted this week to Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott.

Chair of Britain’s recently established Gypsy Forum Cliff Codona, himself a victim of a racially-motivated eviction, says the long-awaited change in UK policy just announced falls far short of meeting Travellers’ needs.While pressing councils to designate land for future caravan parks, the latest advisory does nothing to end the vicious cycle of move-on operations and direct action evictions that are destroying the lives of thousands of families, says Codona.

With delegates from forty other countries, Codona and fellow UK Gypsy representative Kay Beard, last month thrashed out a set of proposals at the European Roma and Travellers Forum which would outlaw direct action evictions and compel local authorities to pass planning applications or provide acceptable alternative sites.

“We agreed in Strasbourg to stop such evictions,” Codona told Ustipen. “The Council of Europe endorsed our blue-print for reform and now we want the UK Government to accept these recommendations.”

He has written to Prescott seeking an urgent meeting to discuss how new government policy can best be reconciled with the Forum’s view that local councils must not be allowed to go on using planning regulations as a smokescreen for ethnic-cleansing.

Codona quotes his own case where Mid-Beds council turned down his plan for a model Romani heritage centre. Despite having earlier licensed the site for holiday  caravans, the Tory-led council hired self-styled Gypsy eviction specialists Constant & Co to bulldoze the 14-acre property.

More recently, Basildon council has voted to spend up to 5 million euro employing Constant to destroy 86 homes at Dale Farm, Essex, the largest Travellers’ community in the UK. Forum member Richard Sheridan has welcomed John Prescott’s proposal for alternative land to be set aside at Pitsea. But he points out that between l5 and 25 million euro in public money could be saved simply by leaving Dale Farm families where they are.

“I think the government needs to take a reality check,” comments Sheridan. “If Basildon evicts us they’ll have the police drive the lot us into the next county before the proposed Pitsea site is even agreed on.”

Meanwhile, the Commission for Racial Equality has as good as said Tory leader Malcolm Buckley’s eviction plan is racially tainted. It has decided to back a judicial review of the Buckley plan sought earlier by Sheridan and other Dale Farm residents.

Next month 40 yard-owners will mount an appeal against Basildon’s repeated refusal of retrospectivep lanning approval. The final decision rests with Prescott, who has so far limited consent to a two-year and one-year temporary extension.

Forum members say they will continue their front-line campaign to plug the gap between long-term government aims and their immediate needs. As a first step they are seeking a moratorium on evictions and a ban on the employment of bully-boy outfits like Constant & Co., whom they accuse of burning and looting Gypsy property all over Britain.

Roma: Ethnic Cleansing

Shoot To Kill: Racist Reply To Roma Rights

Father of eleven children John Ward shot at the door of a farmer’s house, beaten with a stick as he lay bleeding in a patch of nettles;shot again in the back while staggering away in desperate flight, and his body dumped over a wall.

Horrific descriptions like this tend be expunged from official reports of anti-Gypsy violence. Complete statistics remain lacking, even in the latest OSCE survey, and racist murders of Irish Travellers such as that of John Ward last year in Ireland have yet to impact on European records.

A new report by the Council of Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner contains only one figure for racist assaults: 109 attacks recorded in Slovakia in 2002.

Roma and pirutne or Travellers, including the Pavees of Ireland, are dying in racially-motivated attacks at the rate of 230 a year – that’s more than two a week – according to figures released by Rudko Kawczynski, chair of the European Roma and Travellers Forum, which is due to meet in Strasbourg next month.

Statistics compiled by the Roma National Congressshow that 1,756 Roma were killed and more than3,500 injured in over 10,000 registered racial assaults between l990 and l998 in the countries of easternand western Europe.

However, as no systematic monitoring or reportingyet exists, says Kawczynski, the RNC study contains only those cases revealed through media items and NGO-generated data. Bad as the figures are, they may be well below the true total.

Such words as ethnic-cleansing, even genocide,have been used to describe militia-led operations against Roma in former Yugoslavia, especially Kosovo and Bosnia. Neo-nazi killings in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Serbia and Bulgaria, pogroms in Romania and police-sweeps in the Russian Federation, all colour the dismal picture of increasing suppression and persecution, painted on a background of mounting intolerance and open racism.

Writing of the situation in the UK and Ireland,where thousands have been evicted from their own land and driven from traditional stopping places, I have been chided for likening Travellers to the victims of terrorist bombings. But as in Zimbabwe, the state and local authorities show no compunction in pursuing enforcement policies that include the bulldozing of homes and the concomitant wrecking of our children’s lives.

Lip service is paid at the highest level to theright of Roma and Travellers to their own culture and way of life. But the practices really pursued in Britain can be judged from the fact that since the passing of the anti-Gypsy Criminal Justice Act in l994, Travellers have been merciless hounded and newly-arrived Roma ruthlessly detained and deported.

In the past ten years, at a conservative estimate, local authorities have spent a hundred million euro on anti-Gypsy measures, including move-on operations and blocking of potential stopping-places. The “clearance” of the Romani-owned Woodside caravan park alone cost 1.6 million euro, while five million euro has been set aside for the intended destruction of Dale Farm, the largest settlement of its kind in Britain.

Prime Minister Tony Blair on Roma Nation Day this year signed the book of condolence for Roma victims of Nazi genocide and present-day racism. Yet the UK’s anti-Gypsy budget is running higher than that of the entire EU funding for the Framework Programme for the equal integration of Europe’s Romani and Traveller communities.

Ignoring the recommendations of his own planning inspector, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has in recent weeks refused families in Bromley and Sevenoaks permission to live, even temporarily, in their own private yards. This means eviction and the end of regular schooling for another twenty children, and places an adult in need of dialysis in peril of their life.

With the death of Charles Smith, chair of the Gypsy Council, we have lost the first Romani commissioner on the UK Commission for Racial Equality. But under the legacy of Smith’s influence, CRE chairman Trevor Phillips has declared the decision by Basildon council leader Malcolm Buckley racially motivated.

Phillips will apply in the High Court next week to join Dale Farm residents in their bid to obtain a judicial review of Basildon’s blue-print for the demolition of 85 homes and expulsion of 600 people, including l50 school-age children and a score of severely ill adults, from land they purchased and developed, on government advice, at a cost over a million euro.

Dale Farm has become a vital test case and a symbol of resistance to the misuse of planning regulations by anti-Gypsy politicians like Buckley. It follows from the stance taken by CRE that should Prescott again withhold permanent planning consent for Dale Farm he would, for his endorsement of Buckley’s malevolent plan, share the ignominy of a racist tag.

“Our hopes are pinned on the next planning appeal.” said Dale Farm yard-owner John Sheridan. “It will be the height of betrayal should Prescott turns us down this time.”

Meanwhile, UK delegate Cliff Codona, who was himself evicted from Woodside, and
primary delegate Kay Beard, of the UK Association of Gypsy Women, intend to put a resolution forward at the ERTF session in Strasbourg calling for a moratorium on evictions and other forms of legalised ethnic-cleaning currently common not only in Britain but in many parts of  Europe.

A second proposed resolution from the UK representatives to the expected assembly of elected delegates from some 40 countries urges the ERTF to “encourage and promote” the celebration of 8 April as Roma Nation Day by hundreds of Romani and Traveller organisations in Council of Europe member states.

This call to take the lead in the further mobilization Europe’s ten million Roma, on the occasion of the 35th anniversary of Roma Nation Day, is likely to find wide support among those delegates who are already bent on extending the role of the Forum beyond that of a mere consultative body.

Travellers Fight for Homes

Travellers Tell Officials; “We’ll Fight For Our Homes”

The first-ever talks with local government officials to take place at Dale Farm, the 85-family community threatened with destruction by Basildon district council, appears have produced a positive outcome. Residents’ spokesman Richard Sheridan has welcomed a proposal from Philip Hamberger, assistant to chief executive Bala Mahedram, to set up an inter-community public meeting at Crays Hill later this autumn. “We’re obliged to promote good community relations,” newly-appointed diversity consultant Fola Kudehinbu, told the meeting held at the home of resident Mary Ann McCarthy. (13 Sept). Mrs McCarthy said all the residents wanted was to be left in peace to enjoy the homes they had created on the land they had purchased. They wanted nothing from the council except a piece of paper granting planning permission.

What no one wanted, she said, was for the council to send in bulldozers and crush everything that belonged to them, along with their hopes and dreams for a better future for their children and grandchildren. “I don’t want to see all the children shouting and screaming,” Mrs McCarthy told Mr Hamberger. “We’ll put up a fight if you send the bailiffs in here.”

In response Mr Hamberger said he personally could not alter the decision made by the council to spend £2 million on an eviction operation. For now it was up to the courts. But whoever was left at Dale Farm, whether 20% or 50% of the present population, his purpose was to improve relations.

“You can’t improve relations by evicting people,” interjected Wickford resident Anna Kobayashi. “We have a hundred Travellers coming to our church and that to my mind is real community relations.”

Mr Sheridan said he was determined to see 100% of the people remained. “We don’t want you to spend £2 million trying to get us off here – keep your money and leave us to live happily ever after.”

He suggested that the council could help promote a better image of Travellers simply by using different language. For start, the word encampment should be dropped and Dale Farm described instead as a village.

Dale Farm campaigner Grattan Puxon pointed out that on past evidence of the way bailiff company Constant & Co. operate, Basildon council would be breaking the law should direct action be ordered. In particular, he warned against the use of heavy machinery belonging to HE Services.

“Video evidence,” said Mr Puxon, “shows Constant terrorising children and wantonly burning property. These eviction operations contravene health and safety regulations.”

He reminded the council officials that at the recent eviction involving families at nearby Hovefields Avenue Constant and HE Services had acted in contempt of a high court injunction by sending a bulldozer crashing through fences on the property of Mrs Gilheaney, of Ash
View.

Before the meeting, residents removed a barrier of gas-canisters, which had hampered letter deliveries to Dale Farm. They have been replaced by a steel-gate and barbed-wire, limiting access along the private road to authorised vehicles only.

******************************************************

If readers wish to protest the use of bulldozers here is a sample email

Dear Mr Hugh Edeleanu,

At a recent eviction (26 July) at Wickford, Essex,one of your bulldozers crushed the fencing on the property of Mrs Gilheaney, of Ash View, in an act of trespass that was in contempt of a High Court Injunction.

We ask you not to further damage your own image by hiring out your machinery and drivers to Constant & Co, the “Gypsy eviction specialists”.

In particular, we request that you take no part in the bulldozing of the 85 homes at Dale Farm, Crays Hills, Essex, as planned by Basildon district council. Human Rights Monitors will be video-filmingthis operation, if it takes place

‘Battle of the Beanfield’ Anniversary

It’s the 20th Anniversary of Operation Solstice – the state repression of travellers on their way to the Stonehenge Festival – the biggest of the many free festivals in the UK at that time. With the Criminal Justice Bill (sic) coming nearly 10 years later to effectively smash a revived festival scene including another generation are we now left with a poor consumer ‘substitute’….? Here’s a link to a couple of articles on Indymedia…

http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2005/05/312088.html – Battle Of The Beanfield

http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2005/05/312109.html – The Traveller Situation ( Tash )

UK Anti-Gypsy Racism Reaches Danger Level


>UK Anti-Gypsy Racism Reaches Danger Level

The same rabid anti-Gypsy racism which gave rise to the Nazi genocide is now being deliberately whipped up ahead of the British general election, speakers at this year’s Roma Nation Day rally will warn the UK Government.

Romani Rose, of the Central Council of German Sinti, who lost 17 members of his family during the Holocaust, will be among those addressing the Commemoration of Roma Victims taking place (12 noon) at St James’s Church, 197 Piccadilly, London, on Saturday, 9 April.

Paying their respects to the 500,000 Roma who died at the hands of the Nazis will be members of the foreign diplomatic corps and representatives of the Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Jewish communities.

After the signing of a Book of Condolence, candles will be lit to those who died both in the Holocaust and as a result of present-day racism.

Among those to be remembered is Johnny Delaney, the l5-year-old Traveller beaten to death two years ago in Cheshire.

The church ceremony will be followed (approx 1.30pm from outside St James’s Church) by a march across central London against the ethnic-cleansing of 30,000 Gypsies from their own land and in protest over threatened evictions at Dale Farm, Essex; Smithy Fen, Cambridegshire, and elsewhere.

Supported by members of the Gypsy Council, TERF, the NTAG, UKAGW, ITM and other groups, the rally will be headed by the Romani Rad ensemble and a decorated horse-drawn vehicle.

Marchers intend to deliver a demand to Savile Row police station that the SUN newspaper be investigated for incitement to racial hatred over its recent article headed “Stamp on the Camps”.

Similar complaints against other newspapers, among them the Evening Standard, the Mail and Daily Express will also be lodged.

GYPSY FOR PARLIAMENT

At a public meeting following the march, Richard Sheridan is to announce his participation in the general election as a candidate for Billericay. He will be standing against the present Tory MP John Baron, well-known for his anti-Gypsy stance on the issue of the future of unauthorised caravan parks.

 

“As the first Traveller to stand for Parliament,” says Mr Sheridan, “I intend to make our voice heard not only at Crays Hill but around the whole country.”

His adoption by Dale Farm residents follows an intense voter registration scheme which ended on 11 March. Meanwhile, a plan for the creation of a housing association has been submitted to Basildon District Council as an alternative to the threatened l3 May eviction.

The proposed Dale Farm Housing Association, drawing on Housing Corporation and local authority funding, would aim to build several family-sized mobile-home parks for people presently occupying unauthorised plots at Crays Hill.

“The first step is to obtain status as a registered social landlord,” explained Patrick Egan, chair of the Traveller Community Project, which is meeting shortly to form the association.

At the same time, up to 15 fresh planning applications have been prepared for submission to Basildon council ahead of the May deadline. Also in the pipeline are eight human rights cases arising out of evictions by Hertsmere District Council and Chelmsford Borough Council. It is hoped that these cases will help deter Basildon council from resorting to similar methods – the employment of Constant & Co security men, riot police and bulldozers – to raze the homes of the many hundreds of residents at Dale Farm.

Facing Bulldozers In UK Ethnic-Cleansing

The Dale Farm “Freedom March” is a response to eviction proceedings brought by Chelmsford Borough Council.

Nora Egan, a young mother facing eviction from Dale Farm, has called the”Freedom March” against the planned destruction of the UK’s largest Traveller settlement at Cray’s Hill, Essex. Sylvia Dunn, the first Romany general-election candidate in British history, now giving her all in a bid to unseat anti-Gypsy Tory leader Michael Howard in Folkestone, plans to head the march along with Roma activists including those who have seen their homes destroyed.

The march will take place at 12 noon on Saturday, 14 May at Gloucester Park, Basildon the day after some 80 families are supposed to vacate their 50 crowded yards.

Travellers hope this last appeal will persuade council leader Tory Malcolm Buckley to call off what would be an inevitably violent attack on the settlement. Such an eviction was originally contemplated for l3 May, when temporary planning permission expires.

“Filmstars have promised to be here if they try to evict us,” said Mrs Sheridan. “But we hope no such protest will be necessary.”

 The local Basildon ECHO has quoted yard owners as saying “It will take the army to move us.” Earlier, a planning inspector warned of a civil riot should bulldozers be deployed to demolish homes.

Recently actor Corin Redgrave visited Dale Farm and later pledged that he and sister Vanessa Redgrave would return with thousands to create a human shield around Dale Farm. He promised, however, that it would be a totally peaceful and lawful event.

 Meanwhile, Mr Buckley has commissioned notorious private bailiff firm, Constant & Co., to draw up eviction plans. The council have set aside £1.5 million to cover the expected cost. In similar operations at nearby Chelmsford and at Ridge, Hertfordshire, riot police have been mustered in support of Constant bailiffs and numbers of people assaulted and injured.

 A chalet-home, three caravans including a mobile-home and several vehicles were destroyed after dawn raids. The value of private property and personal belongings burned and ploughed up in these two evictions alone has been estimated at more than £500,000.

 Evictions are being monitored, evidence has been gathered and human rights cases have been brought against the perpetrators ( bailiffs, councils, police ) and the Trans-European Roma Federation has denounced this style of operation as ethnic-cleansing.

 Some 600 Travellers and supporters marched through central London on a Roma Nation Day protest calling for an end to such evictions and swifter planning consent for caravan and mobile-home parks.

 Dale Farm has now become the focus of this campaign, being the latest of many to face eviction. At least 200 plots, or individual yards, have been bulldozed in the past 18 months – following the withholding of planning permission due to widespread racial prejudice against Gypsies in Britain.

This prejudice has been exacerbated in the run up to the UK general election by Tory leader Michael Howard. He staged a television event this month close to Dale Farm announcing that his party would push through the closing down of all such “illegal Gypsy encampments.”

In his enthusiasm to play the racist card against a vulnerable minority, Mr Howard ignore the fact that Day Farm is not “illegal”, neither is it an encampment. Planning consent for this virtual village, home to close on one thousand people, only awaits
further confirmation and extension.

 Some 15 fresh planning applications have been submitted and a public inquiry will commence on 10 May. It is expected to be still in process when the Dale Farm “freedom march” reaches Basildon Civic Centre four days later.

Directions: A127 towards Southend. Look out for caravans on left at Basildon and turn into Oak Lane. Take Southend train from Liverpool Street Station. More details soon.

on behalf of Dale Farm

Gypsy & Traveller Law – New Book

Gypsy and Traveller Law Chris Johnson and Marc Willers (eds) is is the first legal book to wholesale mlb jerseys bring ROAD: together the areas of law affecting the travelling TI? community.

It balances straightforward, practical advice with comprehensive coverage of the statutes, regulations, guidance, Student circulars and a rapidly developing body of case-law.

This is the key reference image work for lawyers and advisers working with Gypsies and Travellers and hidden an essential guide for local authorities on their duties to the travelling community and wholesale mlb jerseys the social and legal implications of failure Farm to fulfil these obligations. Gypsy and Traveller Law also aims to empower Gypsies and Travellers to secure their rights and challenge injustice.

It also features a myth-busting history of travellers that should be required reading for anybody contaminated by tabloid bigotry (as wholesale jerseys should Colin Ward’s ‘Cotters and Squatters’ ! ).

The book covers…

  • the history of Gypsies and Travellers
  • the role of local authorities, the police and other public bodies
  • the application GEMT of the Human Rights Act
  • the legal protection against wholesale nba jerseys discrimination provided by Race Relations legislation
  • the provision and management of official sites
  • evictions from unauthorised encampments
  • homelessness legislation as it affects Gypsies and Travellers
  • guidance on planning law and setting up a site
  • access to education and healthcare

The appendices contain a wealth of information including: guidance on judicial review procedure; preparing planning applications and appeals; extracts cheap nba jerseys from legislation; useful contacts and reference materials.

It’s available from Legal Action Group, 242 Pentonville Road, London, N1 9UN, Tel: 020 7833 2931, Fax: 020 7837 6094,  lag@lag.org.uk

Price £29 .

ISBN / ISSN : 1 903307 26 0. Legal Action Group Website

Save Dale Farm

Eviction Threat From Council

The largest Traveller site in the country with over a thousand residents, Dale Farm in Crays Hill, near Basildon and Wickford, Essex, is under threat of eviction. Basildon council will make a decision by the 28th May, but have already paid bailiff company Constant and Co £20,000 to make a plan for eviction. This company makes a lot of money brutally evicting people from their homes.

The whole site is not facing immediate eviction but around 40 – 60 families are. The council is planning to spend a million GPRS and a half of ratepayers money to make these families homeless. cheap jerseys After Dale Farm there really is nowhere to go. Dale Farm has been a refuge in the last few years for families evicted from other sites. The impossible odds of actually receiving planning permission for Traveller sites (over 90% rate of refusal) means brutal and violent evictions across the country.

The size of Dale Farm was cheap nba jerseys an attempt to find safety in numbers, which is soon to Zeiten be stripped away. The right wing press has made headlines in the wholesale nba jerseys last few months claiming that the Gypsy – Traveller community is using Human Rights law for their own benefit. The European Convention on Human Rights does protect the rights of communities to live in a way that is culturally significant to them, and also stops people being moved away from vital services. Children will world! lose their education through eviction, the ill will lose their medical treatment, wholesale jerseys China the au elderly will lose their care.

What You Can Do 

Come to a Public Meeting at the Ramparts Centre, Rampart St, off Commercial Road, Whitechapel, London. ( nr Aldgate East ). Sunday 29th may. 1 PM.

 Join the campaign to support Dale Farm come to the meeting or visit

You could also  send a protest letter to Basildon council. or our ‘listening’ Birgit governmment.