Below we reproduce an open letter to Tony Ball, leader of Basildon Council, from Grattan Puxon of the Dale Farm Housing Association.
Dear Mr Ball,
You have announced that further action will be taken shortly against families on the Dale Farm estate, especially those now compelled to live in caravans on Oak Lane following your destruction of their homes.
You have ensured that no-one can return to their former homes by ordering the digging up of properties, and the five connecting roads on the estate, and erection of mounds of debris. This act we consider illegal and calls into question the squandering of £10 million of public money without any solution in sight.
We are told by the Environmental Agency that through these extreme measures you have exposed dangerous levels of toxic waste.
After all this hurt that you have unnecessarily visited upon the community, you now claim to be willing – as you are duty bound – to consider the welfare of our families and their children.
A request has been made that to this end, everyone should participate in the filling out of a lengthy questionnaire in order that you should have all the information you require so that the full Council and its officers can consider welfare issues before deciding upon which path of action should be adopted.
You have crippled this community. You have torn down our Community Centre and Chapel and you are now asking us to put together for you information that has largely been in your hands for the past seven or eight years. We have filled in requests for re-accommodation, clearly stating the need for land (not council housing), and we have ensured that information has been available to you on the health of residents, many of whom are suffering serious illness – which has only became worse since the clearance of October 2011.
While you pretend to pay ‘due attention’ to welfare, your every statement and action only underlines your long pursued policy of exclusion. First targets were the Romani families and their properties at Hovefields – easier to clear away as fewer in number. Then you came for the Travellers at Dale Farm.
But if you have another face, a face of compassion this is the time to show it. We ask that you:
a) Agree to a meeting at which the question of welfare information be discussed;
b) That the full Council be addressed by Dale Farm representatives;
c) That no one be pressured to leave Oak Lane until secure accommodation (mobile-home parks) are available.
As to fulfillment of the last, we urge that you award planning permission for the development at Gardners Lane South submitted by the Irish Traveller Movement as a first step.
Secretary, Dale Farm Housing Association
Read an IRR News story – ‘Middle England’s last stand’
Read an IRR News story – ‘Playing the Gypsy ‘race card”
Read an IRR News story – ‘Notes on the new Conservative Traveller policy’
Watch a film – ‘The battle for the Meriden green belt’