Basildon council has issued 28 day notices to Travellers living at the Dale Farm site in Billericay, Essex.
They warn Travellers that they must vacate the site by 31 August—or the council will forcibly evict them.
This is a huge assault. Dale Farm is the largest Traveller site in Britain where people have lived since the 1970s.
Around 96 families—400 people—live at Dale Farm. They bought and own the land—but now they face homelessness.
Mary Ann McCarthy lives at Dale Farm. She told Socialist Worker, “I can’t describe how awful this feels. We knew that it was coming but it’s a different thing when it actually happens.
“Why can’t they leave Travellers to live where we want? Animals will be allowed to live here, but not human beings.”
The council claims that the Travellers are illegally occupying greenbelt land. But the residents dispute this.
“This was never greenbelt land,” said Mary Ann. “It was a scrapyard before we came and cleaned it up.”
The eviction notices say that if Travellers refuse to leave, the council will forcibly enter the land.
This will involve “removing all portable structures and place in storage; demolish any fixed structures and digging up any hardcore and hard standing as appropriate.”
Helpfully, it advises Travellers, “This step means that you are now threatened with homelessness.”
But the council will show no mercy for those with nowhere to go: “Any enforcement action will not be suspended or delayed whilst any homeless application is being determined”.
The council is prepared to spend £20 million on forcing Travellers from their homes.
It has £10 million earmarked for policing, which shows how brutal the council expects the operation to be.
Mary Ann told Socialist Worker, “They could do a lot of good things with that money. The government is cutting everything—why can’t the council invest the money in things people need?”
But there will be an almighty fight to defend Dale Farm. “We will do the best that we can to stop them coming,” said Mary Ann. “We have to put up a fight. We need lots of people to come and help us.”
Go to http://dalefarm.wordpress.com for updates and information about how to get involved.
For more on Dale Farm go to www.socialistworker.co.uk//art.php?id=22377