Saturday, 24 September 2011

Dale Farm - update

Following from my first post on the potential Dale Farm eviction, there has been another court injunction preventing Basildon Council evicting the people living on the illegal part of the site. So have correct planning permission rules been followed? This article from official Dale Farm blog doesn't think so. It's a pity this isn't an independent, neutral article, but it has been backed up with citations.

In saying that, I am having a bit of a change of position about this issue. Planning permission was not granted 10 years ago for the illegal part of their site to be built on. The part of the site which was a scrap yard. I know building regulations in England are different from Scotland, but there are certain areas which residential property would not be granter permission and that included former scrap yards, mainly due to the health risks from the oils and heavy metals which the soil will be full of.

I know there has been arguments that they own the land and can build what they like. I can't just build what I like on my land. Technically I might even need permission to erect a shed where I live! With that in mind, and given the residents of Dale Farm say they want to be treated as all other members of British society, they also should adhere to the planning rules. It can't be one rule for non-travellers and a different rule for everyone else.

It would appear the basic issue here has nothing to do with planning permission. It is to do with treating others differently due to their ethnicity. The council have, rightly or wrongly, not granted permission for the former-scrap yard to be used for residential purposes, for 10 years. Since then, due to the legal process, the council have had to stop any action to remove the buildings on that part of the site. Surely, the same rule should have applied to the owners of that land (i.e. they couldn't build until the issue was resolved)? It strikes me as somewhat wrong they don't have to pause until the matter is resolved.

I know this issue has gone on for 10 years. I also know there is the matter of where would these families have lived meantime. As they are building houses, there are plenty houses all over Britain where they could have lived. Even areas of land where there was permission to build already.

I wonder if now this issue has gone beyond planning permission. It's about how society treats those which don't fit into the norms of that society. That said, the law should be the same for everyone, no matter their ethnicity or background. Yet, the fundamental issue remains. Planning permission has not been granted and the people living on the site have defied that ruling for 10 years while the local council has to stand by and not take action, except through the courts.

I pray this issue can be resolved in a way which the dignity of people is preserved, but somehow I suspect that will not be the case. I also know no matte what happens, it will not be a positive outcome for anyone. There are no winners or loser's here. Only losers.

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