Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.
Report by members of the All Party Parliamentary Groupfor Gypsies, Roma and TravellersVisit to Dale Farm Travellers site: ...
authorised site at Oak Lane, which is adjacent to Dale Farm. Numbers of caravans vary,but typically there are between 20-3...
HealthResidents expressed serious concern about the health and wellbeing of Travellers livingon the entrance road and temp...
“I don’t drive, so I need the help of my community. When Basildon evicted us they didn’tassess special needs. If we get ev...
Environment Agency and British Red CrossBetween 14th and 16th August the Environment Agency were on the evicted site at Da...
on the 29th August 2012 and according to Basildon its requirements must be complied withby the 29th September 2012 (see Ap...
ConclusionBasildon Council will note that under the Government’s Planning Policy for Traveller Sitesand National Planning ...
Appendix A             8
9
10
Appendix B             11
12
Appendix C             13
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5
×

Dale farm visit report september 2012 equalities, third sector research centre, 8 nov 2012

350 views

Published on

  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

Dale farm visit report september 2012 equalities, third sector research centre, 8 nov 2012

  1. 1. Report by members of the All Party Parliamentary Groupfor Gypsies, Roma and TravellersVisit to Dale Farm Travellers site: A year on from theevictionSeptember 2012IntroductionOn 7th September Lord Avebury and Andy Slaughter MP, both members of the All PartyParliamentary Group for Gypsies, Roma and Traveller’s, and Jane Connolly from the IrishEmbassy1 visited the evicted residents of Dale Farm who continue to live on the entranceroad to the unauthorised site. The visit was organised by the Irish Traveller Movement inBritain and attended by the British Red Cross and volunteers working closely with theTravellers. The visiting delegation would like to thank the Travellers for their kindhospitality on the day.The objective of the visit was to establish how the situation at Dale Farm has developedsince last year’s eviction and to explore peaceful and sustainable solutions to the issue.The visit was carried out in the context of Dale Farm being a national issue which brings tolight the severe shortage of Gypsy and Traveller sites across the country and thediscrimination these communities face in accessing appropriate accommodation.BackgroundFollowing last year’s £7M eviction2, many of the families made homeless from the landthey owned or rented at Dale Farm returned to the area and have, for the last year, beenliving either on the side of the privately owned road leading into Dale Farm, or on the1 The Irish Embassy is not included as a party to this report’s conclusions and recommendations. It’s role inthe delegation was to gain a better understanding of the issues facing the Irish Traveller Community in theUK and observe some of the work ITMB are involved in.2 http://www.echo-news.co.uk/news/9510408.Dale_Farm_eviction_cost___7million/ 1
  2. 2. authorised site at Oak Lane, which is adjacent to Dale Farm. Numbers of caravans vary,but typically there are between 20-30 caravans on the road into Dale Farm.During the visit the Dale Farm Travellers made two key points regarding theircircumstances: Firstly, if they had anywhere else to go, they wouldn’t continue to livein such poor conditions, and secondly that the vast majority of Travellers living onOak lane or temporarily on authorised pitches are the original residents of theevicted site (contrary to claims by Basildon that the Travellers temporarily living on DaleFarm have moved in from outside the Borough and were never resident on the site).Meanwhile concern has been expressed by the British Red Cross regarding the health ofTravellers as a result of their continued poor living conditions and the major excavationworks on the nearby evicted site. The Environment Agency has also recently conductedtests on the site for asbestos and hydro-carbons, both pollutants which are dangerous topublic health. It should be noted that the Irish Traveller Movement in Britain (ITMB) havesubmitted a planning application for 15 permanent residential pitches on vacant non-GreenBelt land owned by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) at Gardiners Way inBasildon.The visit and issues arisingLord Avebury, Andy Slaughter MP and Jane Connolly spent over an hour talking to theDale Farm Travellers on issues ranging from health, services, further enforcement, futureaccommodation, education and children. Serious concerns were expressed by Travellersin all these areas as outlined below. The group also took a tour of the unauthorised sectionof the site where Basildon has carried out extensive works to restore it to the green belt.Lord Avebury talking to Dale Farm Travellers about conditions on the site 2
  3. 3. HealthResidents expressed serious concern about the health and wellbeing of Travellers livingon the entrance road and temporarily on the authorised pitches. Of particular concern wasthe fact that midwife visits to women living on the site were suspended for approximately 8months, with women who had given birth by caesarean section (who are generallydischarged from hospital 2 days following the operation) being refused visits and expectedto make their way to the hospital for care.It was only following complaints from variousindividuals and organisations that these services were restored. However, during the visitsome residents and volunteers indicated that health visitors were still reluctant or notwilling to visit the site and that provision of such services may not be in line with standardprovision to other communities. One resident made this comment:“Midwives and health visitors don’t come here since the eviction; we have to go toBillericay for ante-natal care. Three women are pregnant on the roadside, two on thesettled site”.Volunteers on the site and the British Red Cross updated the group that as of May 2012 aHealth Bus has been conducting weekly visits and offers baby-weighing, health advice etc.However, it was emphasised that this was no substitute to standard domiciliary servicesand mid-wife ante and post-natal home visits.The delegation found that many of the residents are highly vulnerable and have seriousconditions such as Parkinson’s Disease, Dementia, Osteoporosis, Chron’s Disease, BowelCancer, Down Syndrome etc. Below are some of the health conditions residents describedto Lord Avebury (personal details have been removed):Male 24, severely disabled after a car accident and 30 operations for broken bones.Female 65, has dementia. Daughter is her full-time carer and has high blood pressureherself.Male 81, oldest resident, COPD, gout, high blood pressure, was a smoker and uses abreathing machine at night. He has no carer.Female 76, dementia, stroke, over-active thyroid, needs to go twice a week to healthcentre at Billericay.Female 76, Parkinson’s, used to be visited by district nurse, but that stopped after theeviction. Daughter Margaret Quilligan, her carer, has thyroid problem for which she istreated with 275mg thyroxine daily.Female 36, children 14, 15, has Crohn’s disease for which she had surgery last year, andis taking medication. [Note: there is no cure for Crohn’s disease, but symptoms cansometimes be alleviated].Female 72, COPD, uses breathing machine, also osteoporosis. Daughter is carer.Male 7, has Down’s syndrome who attends Pioneer special needs school in Basildonwhere he is doing well. He has a problem with his hearing and also with breathing forwhich he needs to attend Wickford Health Centre and Basildon Hospital regularly. 3
  4. 4. “I don’t drive, so I need the help of my community. When Basildon evicted us they didn’tassess special needs. If we get evicted, where do we go? Everybody helps each otherhere, but if we’re separated we can’t do that”.Female, looks after her brain-damaged son, 32. Partner (Male) has had 2 heart attacks,suffered stroke 2 days after the eviction. “We have nowhere to go with all our problems”.Female 60, high blood pressure, stroke victim, being treated at Wickford Health Centre,which she says is good. “I can’t drive, so I depend on the neighbours for shopping andvisits to the doctor”Male 80, Angina, bowel cancer, scan awaited for prostate cancer. Lives with daughter andher three children. She suffers from depression and two of the children are deaf, oneprofoundly.Female fractured spine caused by police attack with batons during the eviction, caught onvideo. They shouted at her ‘Get down you pig’ when she tried to stop them knocking downa wall on a legal site. Police have admitted responsibility, her solicitors have made a claimfor damages.It should be noted that the British Red Cross have expressed concern regarding the healthof Travellers as a result of their long-term poor living conditions and the works carried outon the nearby evicted site.ServicesThe delegation found conditions to be very poor on site, largely due to the lack of services.There are no toilets. Fresh water is only available from taps on the authorised site andresidents complain about the number of rats. Residents also made the point that if theyhad anywhere else to go, they wouldn’t be living in such poor conditions. It was noted thatthe community returning to the site reflects the chronic shortage of accommodation forGypsies and Travellers throughout Essex and nationally. It also reflects the increasingimpossibility of living on the side of the road (because of the risk of repeated evictions,abuse, assault etc). During the visit residents repeatedly expressed their worries aboutspending yet another winter living in such precarious conditions. Below are some of theconcerns residents described to Lord Avebury: “Conditions are terrible. No toilets, no electric. Water has to be fetched in jugs. Nearestlaundrette is 3 miles away”“Biggest problem is the toddlers – 12 aged 1-2 out of some 60 children up to the age of 16on the site. About 20-25 from the illegal site attend primary school, none go to secondaryschool”.“There has been a recent outbreak of vomiting and diarrahoea. Fifteen children have beento the doctor in Wickford or Billericay”.“You can have a shower at the ‘sporting village’ in Basildon, at £3.50 for an adult, £2.70 fora child”.Resident on lawful site: Overflow from drains broken by Council in his garden. 4
  5. 5. Environment Agency and British Red CrossBetween 14th and 16th August the Environment Agency were on the evicted site at DaleFarm testing for pollutants, particularly asbestos and hydro-carbons. The fact that theyhave taken this action suggests they are convinced there is a significant risk that harmfulpollutants could exist. If they are found the responsible parties (potentially BasildonCouncil and their bailiffs) could be liable for the costs of carrying out the testing and ofpossibly capping the site. The EA’s test results are not expected until mid-to-lateSeptember.3Meanwhile an independent assessment carried out by the British Red Cross in February2012 expressed concern regarding the health of Travellers on the site as a result of themajor excavation works and the shortage of adequate sanitation (see Appendix A). Duringthe 7th September visit members of the Red Cross again stated their continued concernsregarding the physical and mental health of the Travellers, lack of sanitation and thepossible health threats posed by the evicted site.Dale Farm volunteer showing Andy Slaughter MP excavation works carried out on the evicted sitein order to restore it to green beltEnforcement noticesIn July 2012 Basildon Council served enforcement notices on residents living on theentrance road to Dale Farm, but not on the allegedly overcrowded authorised plots. Thesenotices were appealed by the Travellers, however, the Planning Inspectorate deemed theappeals invalid as the appellants could not prove they ‘had any interest whatsoever in theland the subject of the issued Enforcement Notice.’4 As a result the notice came into effect3 http://www.thisistotalessex.co.uk/Environment-Agency-inquiry-Dale-Farm-asbestos/story-16669787-detail/story.html4 th Letter from Basildon Council dated 7 September 2012, Neil Costen, Manager of Planning Enforcement(see Appendix A0 5
  6. 6. on the 29th August 2012 and according to Basildon its requirements must be complied withby the 29th September 2012 (see Appendix B).Planning application Gardiners Way BasildonIn media interviews Cllr Tony Ball, Leader of Basildon, has acknowledged the need forfurther provision of Gypsy and Traveller sites in Borough.On 21st August the ITMB submitted a planning application for 15 permanent residentialpitches on vacant non-Green Belt land owned by the Homes and Communities Agency(HCA) at Gardiners Way in Basildon. This application was validated by Basildon on the 4 thSeptember and should be determined within 8-13 weeks, after which time the applicantmay have the right to appeal against non-determination on the grounds of invalidity.The objective of the application is to deliver a high quality authorised site for the mostvulnerable on Dale Farm (the 15 proposed pitches will address approximately half theaccommodation needs of the homeless Travellers on Dale Farm). The plans for the sitealso include a children’s play area and a community building / site manager’s office (seeAppendix C).ITMB together with Homes Space Sustainable Accommodation5 (who are a partly Gypsyowned not-for-profit business with expertise in site management and development) willshortly be submitting a bid for funding to the Homes and Communities Agency for funds todevelop the Gardiners Way site.Meeting with Dale Farm Travellers, Matthew Brindley ITMB, Josie O’Driscoll ITMB (standing)and Jane Connolly from the Irish Embassy (seated in front of Josie)5 http://www.homespacesa.co.uk/Home.html 6
  7. 7. ConclusionBasildon Council will note that under the Government’s Planning Policy for Traveller Sitesand National Planning Policy Framework, they have a duty to develop a core strategywhich includes a five-year rolling land supply for Gypsy and Traveller sites that will coverthe needs of the community in the area, including those displaced from Dale Farm, byMarch 31, 2013. It should also be noted that the 2009 Essex Gypsy and TravellerAccommodation Needs Assessment (GTANA) carried out by Fordham Researchhighlighted on behalf of the Council found that Basildon had a requirement to provide aminimum of 81 additional residential pitches by 2011.If Basildon’s core strategy is not in place, the Council may not be able to resist planningapplications on land they may consider unsuitable.None of the children of secondary school age in unauthorised families is attendingsecondary school, and the Council is in default of its obligation to satisfy itself that thesechildren are receiving suitable education, through the Education Welfare Service.Recommendations  The PCT and the local authority should immediately conduct assessments of the health and welfare needs of the residents, to ensure that they are carrying out their statutory duties to vulnerable groupings including the chronically ill, the disabled, plder residents, mothers and babies and children.  Basildon should refrain from carrying out further evictions of the residents on Oak Lane when it is patently evident that they have nowhere else to go.  The Gardiner’s Way planning application should be granted, providing there are no objections based on sound reasoning and robust evidence. The immediate welfare of the Travellers living at Dale Farm should be taken into serious consideration in all future planning decisions made by BBC.  The office of the Children’s Commissioner should visit Dale Farm, and make relevant representation to the Council Leader and CEO of BBC regarding the current serious risks to the health and welfare of babies and young children living in Oak Lane. 7
  8. 8. Appendix A 8
  9. 9. 9
  10. 10. 10
  11. 11. Appendix B 11
  12. 12. 12
  13. 13. Appendix C 13

×