Monday, 19 September 2011

Dale Farm eviction

Today, the people living at Dale Farm are due to be evicted from their homes. Okay, so there may not have planning permission granted for the extension the community built, on their own land, but how often are planning regulations flouted and the local authorities don't bat an eyelid or grant permission retrospectively?

The rational behind the eviction, so far as I can tell, is the extension is built on greenbelt. This forms half the site and the other half of the site is legal. Okay, so the local authority designated green belt on the site of a former scrapyard. Are you extracting the Michael? Greenbelt on an area which will be full or heavy metals from the processing of the scrap metal.

As the leaders of the church in Essex have pointed out:
“While we recognise that travellers, like others, are not above the law, nevertheless, half the Dale Farm site is already recognised as lawful and it would seem to the benefit of all to authorise the adjoining site rather than spend millions on eviction in these days of austerity and cutbacks.” 
It is estimated the eviction will cost up to £18 million.  I know where I'd rather my taxes spent.

Gypsies and travellers must be some of the most vilified groups in the UK (if not Europe). As Rabbi Janet Burden pointed out here
"The language used clearly echoes the rhetoric of antisemitism," she said. "If you don't believe this, have a look at the website for examples of newspaper articles which substitute the word Jew for Gypsy or Traveller. The results are quite chilling. I believe that the obligation to protect this ethnic minority's way of life is a human rights issue that, in this particular and unusual case, may need to trump the planning law designed to protect the green belt."
Okay, there are groups who have adopted travelling lifestyles who illegally camp and leave rubbish and devastation in their wake. But they are in the minority and you can't tar everyone with the same brush. Yet this seems to happen again and again. I wonder if it is because general society just don't understand why they don't settle down and get a real house? Or is it just easy to marginalise people who do not fit into society norms. Does society need someone to persecute?

Things seem to be moving in Scotland as the Scottish Parliament move towards formal recognition of travellers as a distinct ethnic group, though it will take much, much longer to change society's views.

The church, the body of Christ, must stand up against any case of discrimination and marginalisation. Not just because it is the right thing to do (which, of course it is), but because that is what we are called to do. Give money to the poor,  feed the hungry, shelter the homeless. Otherwise, we might as well just stop what we are doing now as how else can the gospel be the Good News to the poor?

1 comment:

  1. An interesting post, I didn't understand what was illegal on the Dale Farms plot.

    I think a lot of resentment in this case is due to the populations envy of someone else getting more control on their life than they can. It's pretty hard to build your own home in the UK and seeing someone 'jump they queue' touches a raw nerve. This doesn't excuse it.


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