Proposed Eviction (Dale Farm and Hovefields, Essex)
Julie Morgan (Cardiff North, Labour)
My second petition, to which there are 15 signatures, concerns the proposed eviction of Gypsy and Traveller families at Dale Farm and Hovefields by Basildon council. It was organised by Ann Dean. The families include invalid schoolchildren, some of whom have special needs, elderly people, and many who are living on their own land. The petition states:
The Petition of families at Dale Farm and Hovefields to be evicted, their supporters and others,
Declares that roughly 100 families at Dale Farm and Hovefields are to be evicted by Basildon Council in Essex at a cost of over £2 million; that most of the families to be evicted by Basildon Council have lived on their own land for about seven years, and they include invalids who will be separated from their Carers and school children, some of whom have Special Needs, who on the roadside will be deprived of their Human Right to Education; that this mass eviction will be carried out by a firm of Bailiffs whose brutality was condemned by the High Court, and therefore breaks the solemn signed undertaking by Basildon Council to the High Court, to only use Bailiffs of previous good conduct;
Further declares that the Petitioners believe Basildon Council is also breaking the terms and the purpose of sections 225 and 226 of the 2004 Housing Act, which say that every local housing authority must "prepare a strategy" to meet the "accommodation needs" of the "gypsies and travellers residing in or resorting to their area", whilst in fact Basildon Council says that any new pitches which it allows will not be reserved for local Travellers who are already residing in the area; that this contradicts their statement that the new pitches will be allocated by their housing policy as the 1996 Housing Act normally requires a "local connection"; that it also means that the local Travellers may have to live by the roadside although the 2004 Housing Act promised them legal pitches by 2011.
The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons debate this matter; and urge the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government: to exercise his powers under s225 and 226 of the 2004 Housing Act and s 8 of the 1985 Housing Act (c. 68) to see that all local authorities, including Basildon, find enough affordable pitches for all their local Travellers; to urge all local authorities to show humanity by following the decision of the Court of Appeal in 2008 in the Wychavon case, by not evicting Travellers, especially those on their own land, until an alternative affordable site is available for them, as was intended by the 2004 Housing Act to happen by 2011; to ask local authorities to follow the High Court decisions v Basildon in 2000 and 2004 that even normal school children should not be evicted; to ask Basildon to follow the High Court in the Margaret Price case by not offering Homeless Travellers only bricks and mortar, but affordable pitches; and to ask Basildon not to evict the sick, or the elderly or break its undertaking to the High Court not to use Bailiffs of bad conduct.