Basildon District Council is to reconsider its options in regard to the continuation of the Dale Farm community, where some 90 families accommodated in 132 chalets, mobile-homes and caravans (January 2008 official count) are in breach of planning regulations, as the land they own is in a greenbelt zone.
The community urgently needs letters (see below) which can be submitted to the Council's Development Control Committee, meeting on 11 November.
The council voted in 2005 to take direct action under s178 of the Town and Country Planning Act, which would involve a huge eviction operation using Constant & Co bailiffs accompanied by police, some in riot gear. The cost of this unprecedented clearance, in which many homes would be destroyed and families left to camp on roadsides and car-parks, is set at nearly two million pounds.
It would endanger and likely bring about the early death of several severely sick people, and end the home care and medical supervision of many others; as well as interrupting and probably ending the education of some 60 children now in primary school.
In addition, it would mean the closure of the Saint Christophe Centre, headquarters of the Dale Farm Chaveys, a youth club that caters for some 100 young people, nurturing their culture, language and history, and providing courses in youth leadership, IT proficiency and photography, among other subjects. Saint Christopher's is also a place of prayer.
If allowed to continue, the Centre is to become within the next few months the venue for a unique education programme being devised by Prof Stephen Heppell, of Anglia Ruskin University, serving the needs of 50 children of secondary school age (none attending locally due to racist bullying) and offering literacy courses for adults. Having consulted with counsel about the 11 November decision that is to be made, we should submit:
A full catalogue of welfare needs backed up to the greatest possible extent with letters from schools, GPs, treating hospitals, social workers etc. to say that eviction without the identification of an alternative site will result in x or y needs not being met. We must show that there is a list of needs which cannot be met on the roadside.
It is a task, but it needs doing, and thoroughly.
Please send letters directly to:
Davies, Gore, Lomax
63 Great George Street
Leeds, LS1 3BB