SWAN considers the eviction to be racially motivated. We are concerned that this reflects a wider pattern of increasing racism and discrimination against Traveller and Roma communities in the UK and across Europe. Such actions are encouraging a wider atmosphere of scapegoating and racism against these communities.
Travellers have lived on the Dale Farm site since the 1970s and, though the land has achieved Greenbelt status – a key argument the council is using to evict the site – it was formerly a scrap yard. Changes in the law have resulted in the systematic persecution of the Travelling community, particularly those wanting to settle on sites such as Dale Farm.
SWAN believes Basildon Council, in pursuing this eviction, is showing a disregard for the traditions and culture of the Traveller community and is failing in their duties to provide suitable accommodation to the residents of Dale Farm. SWAN urges Basildon City Council to respect the human rights of Dale Farm residents.
The proposed eviction will cost an estimated £18 million in a context of deep and unfair cuts to local services and will result only in increased homelessness and the persecution of the Traveller community.
SWAN stands in solidarity with those at Dale Farm, extends our support to the residents there, and condemns the actions of Basildon Council and the excessive force used by the police.
SWAN steering committee, 19/10/11
(adapted from statement by Kate Grant/Bristol SWAN)