Basildon Council says it has to evict around 400 people from Dale Farm because the land is greenbelt.
This is disputed. “This was never a beauty spot,” says Mary Ann McCarthy. In fact it was a concrete scrap yard when Travellers bought the land.
Around half of the pitches have planning permission—which means there will still be Travellers at the site even if some are evicted.
And Basildon council’s green credentials aren’t up to much. While it feigns concern about protecting greenbelt land, it is approving contracts to firms to build new houses on greenbelt.
It recently granted permission to Banner Homes to build 51 houses on the former Billericay School Farm, a greenbelt site.
In June, it also announced plans for homes and a business park to be built on 86 acres of a wildlife haven and South Essex College site. Tory council leader Tony Ball said that “some development of the site is inevitable”.