STOP PRESS THURSDAY 20 OCT SKYNEWS REPORTS: TRAVELLERS SPOKESWOMAN: "ONCE EVICTED TRAVELLERS WILL FORM CONVOY TO TRAVEL TO NORFOLK AND OTHER REGIONAL SITES"
The long awaited eviction of residents and 'freelance ' demonstrators at Dale Farm, nr Basildon, Essex started this morning with a classic distraction ploy of keeping the target audience talking at the front door whilst the bulk of the action took place at the other end of the plot.
Hopefully now that the protests have been seen worldwide through non stop TV news coverage, for personal safety reasons everyone will now climb down from the scaffolds and life will carry on... It won't happen of course, as some will carry on until the bitter end, but what concerns our neighbourhood is that Basildon Council have apparently given the travellers a comprehensive list of other 'authorised' sites and apparently Cambridgeshire features high on that list. To clarify we have now seen a copy of the list which has been handed out to a number of former 'residents' of Dale Farm. Sources tell us that Basidon Council is now denying any such list has been circulated.
Given that travellers do have rights, one has to wonder why they see the need to put down permanent roots in one particular place, and many of the structures are mobile homes in name only, but more the type of chalet homes you find on upmarket parks. Simply those semi-permanent structures are not designed to move once the initial jockey wheels have positioned the unit in the first place.
In the case of Dale Farm, legal action has been dragging on for ten years - mainly at taxpayers expense and hopefully this will see the end of the current activity. We can only hope PCC are watching the videos and will not fall into the legal mess and public relations disaster that has surrounded the flawed Basildon Council approach, to say nothing of the estimated £15 million plus budget to be picked up by local ratepayers.
Clearly Cllr Tony Ball, leader of Basildon Council, needs a substantial amount of professional media presentational training and perhaps our own leader Cllr Cereste to give him a few pointers in how to sell impossible situations to the media? Clearly a massive fail on Basildons part, hopefully never to be repeated here.
Supt Roe from Essex Police had a far more relaxed and polished view of the situation, in a businesslike press conference address (without notes) he revealed that advance intelligence stated that 'weapons, fluids, objects and materials' were being stored ready to be deployed against police and bailiffs. One person had been tasered, two officers injured. Three arrests had been made. The majority of the violence was from the [imported] protestors rather than the travellers (many choosing to leave before today) he claimed.
It will not have escaped your notice that with the old folks home in our neighbourhood being knocked down, an earthworks and chain linked fence has appeared all around the extensive island site and other open spaces have recently seen the addition of fences, gates and bollards to prevent access by 'travellers'.
This does not really tackle the problem. Perhaps some of the abandoned / redundant RAF airfields and other mothballed MOD property could be harnessed to provide hard standing and a selection of sites for those who feel the need to roam?
Simply the days of the friendly traveller in a traditional horse drawn caravan selling clothes pegs and bunches of lucky heather, has long gone as the current generation seem to rely on metal recycling, jobbing building, driveway block paving and tarmac black topping. One enterprising family in this neighbourhood has even taken to cleaning and spray washing wheeliebins!
However the Dale Farm situation plays out, we can only hope that 'lessons have been learned' and that should the situation arise here then a far more balanced approach, with all agencies equally involved, will be taken...
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