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HOVEFIELDS EVICTION THREAT

Gypsy/travellers in Essex are in serious trouble after receiving a 28-day notice of eviction to vacate their site at Hovefields at the beginning of August. This site is near Dale Farm - the largest Gypsy site in the country – which is also under imminent threat (see SchNEWS 702). Twenty families face a violent eviction by bailiffs Constant & Co if they don't leave by next Tuesday (31st). This group includes two children with learning disabilities, plus several elderly residents, and no alternative site is being offered by Basildon Council. It is a breach of the Human Rights Act.

This comes after six families were evicted from Hovefields on June 29th, when Constant & Co bailiffs arrived – with Essex Police – without forewarning in the early hours of the morning and gave them one hour to go. A bulldozer was used to flatten pitches and knock down a building being used as a toilet. Six pitches were empty due to the residents being on the road at the time – they are not allowed to return due to an injunction. No compensation or alternative site was on offer.

Yesterday there was a training day at Dale Farm to help prepare people to defend the eviction, and will surely need reinforcements as Constant & Co, the self proclaimed 'gypsy eviction specialists' – and currently under investigation for breaches of safety law - have a long history of wanton violence (see SchNEWS 439), as they play their part in the ethnic cleansing of traditional travelling peoples.

Dale Farm – which houses around 1000 people – is on land owned by the travellers, but only part of it has planning permission – and the Basildon Council is choosing to evict rather than settle the whole matter by allowing permission for the rest. It is also under direct threat, and some consider Hovefields to be a warm-up for a massive eviction of Dale Farm.

Tory cutbacks have seen the cancellation of funding for new caravan parks for Gypsies and Travellers, but in reality none of this is about saving money – in fact quite the opposite. No expense is being spared to ethnically cleanse those living a travellers' life. So far Basildon Council have spent £2.5 million on legal fees, and will spend £3.5 million trying to evict these sites in Essex. Their offer to provide housing for the Essex families would cost £35-40 million, and it costs tens of millions to keep evicting travellers around the country. The cheaper option of spending £4 million to provide sites for travellers doesn't come into it.

* Hovefield location: off A127, take Gardiners Lane North to Oak Road, Wickford CM11 2YH.

* To help protect Gypsies and their way of life, email dale.farm@btinternet.com or the Essex Human Rights Clinic losori@essex.ac.uk See also www.gypsy-traveller.org

* Roma and Gypsy travelling communities are constantly suffering from brutal evictions across Europe, and at the moment in France there is a campaign to deport 850 Roma people to Romania by the end of August. In the past fortnight there's been several large expulsions with hundreds who the French Government say have outstayed the three-month limit (even though these are EU citizens) being flown to Romania. The French Government are giving a paltry compensation of Eur300 per adult, Eur100 per child for the loss of vehicles and property. See www.errc.org

Keywords: dale farm, gypsy, hovefields, travellers


 
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A brief history of the Dragon Festival and Cigarrones travellers site, southern Spain.
The Cigarrones travellers’ site is one of several communities which have sprung up near Orgiva in Andalucía, Spain, in recent decades. Coming to the southern tip of Europe to escape the repression against travellers in Britain and elsewhere, they have carved out a life of avin’ it autonomous anarchy – despite increasing attention from tinpot local authorities who act like Franco is still in. Since 1997 the site has held the annual Dragon Festival - now arguably one of the most significant free festivals in Europe – but this is also under attack. Here is a brief history written by a resident of Cigarrones:
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