July 2011
Dale Farm, the Works


Building. Documenting. Printing.
Dale Farm Basildon Essex



The entire Dale Farm episode may be read as a futile enforcement of the letter of the law, but more significantly as the enforcement of a very modern dystopia, "centralised placelessness" coined by Madeleine Bunting in the Guardian. It is where communities are placed in.
This place has its costs:
"Both our politics and our economics have been steadily driving in that direction for a generation. It leaves people rootless without the resources offered by a sense of belonging to form communities and neighbourhoods – the building blocks of politics."


The law took its course. The eviction with helicopters and tasers was swift and brutal.
The final cost of the forced eviction to the tax payer was almost four times the £2.2 million originally allocated - around £8.4 million.
After eviction, the site ironically returned into its original state, yet again a neglected dumping ground as the photographs show. Many of the families evicted remain without a pitch for their homes.
What matters though is that now the land has been 'returned' to its place in the Green belt.

The timeline in 2011 (via the Daily Mail) was as follows:

July: Eviction notices are served by Basildon Council. The council gives residents occupying 51 unauthorised pitches 28 days to vacate the land.

August 8: The campaign to stop the eviction gathers pace as actress and human rights campaigner Vanessa Redgrave visits Dale Farm. Activists begin to set up 'Camp Constant' to help defend travellers. Lawyers fail in a High Court bid to halt the eviction.

September 5: The date for the beginning of the clearance is revealed as September 19. Travellers criticise the council after the date was leaked to the media before they were informed.

September 16: Elderly resident Mary Flynn given a final chance to challenge the clearance of the site.

September 18: Supporters and travellers resisting the clearance of Dale Farm lock down the site as they prepare for the arrival of bailiffs.

September 19: Bailiffs arrive at the main gate of Dale Farm to start the eviction of up to 80 families living on the unauthorised plot. Later, the residents win a last-gasp injunction preventing the council from clearing structures.

September 21: Travellers flee the site amid fears of eviction. A group of travellers claiming to be from Dale Farm relocate to a public park in Luton.

September 26: Residents win a temporary reprieve. A judge rules that residents are entitled to an extension of an injunction stopping their evictions until the courts have ruled on the legality of their proposed removal.

October 17: Residents refused permission to appeal against a High Court ruling that gave Basildon Council the go-ahead to evict them.

October 19: Supporters clash with bailiffs and riot police as the planned eviction finally gets under way.



The task at Dale Farm was the building of barricades to protect the community against violent entry by the bailiffs. An exercise of plugging the gaps all around Dale Farm. 
This was carried out whilst legal processes continued through the courts.
Over a month both sides, the bailiffs Constant and Co (working with the police) and Camp Constant (the travellers working with activists) each built their fortifications in full view of the other. Helicopters buzzed overhead. Slowly but surely the process turned family environments into a militarised zone.

A callout for help went out along with a solidarity website. Activists from all over the country answered the call to help a vilified community. It was a case of "who will speak up for a community for whom no-one speaks."
The camp, Camp Constant was set up on 9 April 2011, the day after Roma Nation Day to draw attention to the plight of the families at Dale Farm.

Once Basildon Council announced plans to evict the 'unlawful' part of Dale Farm, much publicised by the tabloid press, the British firm of bailiffs, Constant and Co., was given the contract to clear the illegal occupation of Green Belt land. The cost to the tax payer was estimated at £2.2 million.
Constant and Co. had the task of clearing 54 pitches (later reduced to 51); the word pitch refers to the concrete base on which the travellers park their caravan of mobile homes. The bailiff's authority extended to removing the concrete pitches on the site, along with 49 of 54 caravans parked there.
The walls and fences built by the travellers could remain.


This picture hangs in one of the mobile homes at Dale Farm.

Forced evictions by bailiffs are a part of Roma and traveller folklore.

To summarise half of the 100 properties on the Dale Farm site have permission to be there. The other disputed half came out of the travellers buying an adjacent plot and using it without planning consent to pitch their caravans. Whilst the land is designated Greenbelt land, before the travellers bought it and moved in, Basildon Council used it as a dumping ground for abandoned vehicles.

The difficulty and discrimination faced by the traveller community in England to obtain residential pitches for their mobile homes and so maintain their traveller way of life has been much documented with a fifth of traveller residents in England still living on illegal land.


What came to be known as the Battle of Basildon arose from the il/legality of one part of Dale Farm,
an Irish travellers community in a remote field in Essex that few would want to know about. The offending part long existed unnoticed with unacknowledged support from the local council (Basildon Council). In 2010 it exploded into public consciousness as an unlawful intrusion into protected Green Belt land by Irish travellers.

"It used to be a dirty scrapyard, but we cleaned it up"

Printworks

The barricades at Dale Farm are the source for a series of screen prints under the title of
Dale Farm, the Works



 

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