Basildon council wants to forcibly remove around 400 Travellers from Dale Farm in Essex, making them homeless.
The eviction would cut off water and electricity to the site—and put the lives of several Travellers in serious jeopardy.
Grattan Puxon, a campaigner for Travellers at Dale Farm, told Socialist Worker, “One man who lives at Dale Farm needs to use a nebulizer machine 24 hours a day to help him breathe.
“It runs on electricity. If they switch off the electricity, they’ll kill him.”
Mary Flynn, a Traveller at the site, suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and has lung damage. She uses a nebulizer, as well as inhalers, to help her breathe.
Mary told Socialist Worker, “I’m in awful health. I was in hospital last week and I’m always going to the doctors.
“There are cancer patients here and people have other ailments. We have nowhere to go—we need to stay here.”
The eviction notices, issued by Basildon council, state that “water and electricity supply will be cut off during the site clearance process”.
Travellers are terrified about what will happen if they are forced onto the road—with no permanent address or access to a GP.
Margaret Gammell has diabetes, heart problems and high blood pressure. She has to take sets of medicines every day.
She’s lived at Dale Farm for eight years. “I have to go to the doctors to have my blood tests,” she said. “But where would I get any help if I’m beside the road?
“And what will it be like with no facilities, no toilets, no running water?”
Margaret said the stress of the eviction is “getting me down”. But the Travellers have pledged to fight the eviction, and they are asking people to come and join them.
Margaret said, “We’re entitled to rights like anyone else and we’ll fight to the bitter end.
“We’re not going to walk away. Would you leave your home without a battle?”
The stress of the looming eviction is making people’s health problems worse.
Traveller Mary Ann McCarthy told Socialist Worker, “Most of the women here are on anti-depressants.”
The council says Travellers must leave Dale Farm by 31 August or face forcible removal. It is prepared to spend an astonishing £18 million to make people homeless.
The Travellers have lived at the site for years and own the land. An eviction would set a dangerous precedent for others. We have to resist it.
To get involved with the campaign to defend Dale Farm go to http://dalefarm.wordpress.com