Friday, July 22, 2011

The Big Gypsy Eviction

The BBC ran this programme last night, a documentary with a human-interest slant on the unauthorised Dale Farm Traveller site and the eviction that may take place shortly. It was reasonably fair, though it didn't go into the technicalities of the matter, rather concentrating on the people involved. Those technicalities are briefly that the Dale Farm land is owned by the Travellers, but it is Green Belt and has no planning permission. Planning rules are there for very good reasons and you just cannot pitch up and build what effectively constitutes a village in any field that you think fit. There has been considerable adverse impact on nearby residents for example, and the documentary illustrated this to some extent.

It also illustrated the culture clash that has made this whole issue so much more difficult. There have been threats of violence from the Travellers when they don't get what they want, as illustrated in this BBC article:

"We're fighting for our homes," says one man, as he adds gas cylinders to a barricade.

He demonstrates how the cylinders can be be lit so a large flame flies out. "The first man that comes in is going to die," the man warns.

And Mimi also has a warning: "Basildon will go up in fire before we go."

The police take this sort of stuff seriously, which is why they are on hand at the Council whenever there is any Traveller business under consideration. So, the professionals think that this is more than just bluster.

I don't know who is advising the Travellers, but do they actually think that this sort of thing helps their cause? Certainly, support among the settled community for action on any unauthorised development in the Green Belt remains high.

Most people do not react well to threats.