From Lord Avebury P0811091
September 11, 2008
Dear Cllr Hillier,
I am appalled by the news that Basildon Council intends to demolish the St Christopher Centre at Dale Farm, a facility that has already proved of great benefit socially and educationally to all the residents. There should be no evictions until land is designated for permanent accommodation of the people on the Dale Farm site, as the Council will have to do sooner rather than later under the Planning & Compulsory Purchase Act. It would be a vindictive and pointless act of vandalism to single out the St Christopher Centre for removal now, when the future of all the residents who use it still has to be decided. The Development Control Committee may like to be reminded of a statement endorsed by a number of Bishops, Parliamentarians and Traveller Organisations calling for a halt to eviction plans and for the Council to focus on delivering its obligation to identify land for new pitches. This statement was sent to Cllr Buckley leader of Basildon Council and a copy is attached for ease of reference.
In the light of these considerations, I very much hope the Committee will decline to approve the demolition of the St Christopher Centre.
Councillor Stephen Hillier,
Development Control and Traffic Management Committee,
Dale Farm Statement
"We welcome the judgement made by Justice Collins and believe that it is
right for a forced eviction action at Dale Farm to be suspended and call
for the creation of new pitches in the Basildon area under the
Government's new accommodation policies for Travellers to be implemented
as a matter of urgency. The shortage of Traveller sites was caused by the
abolition in 1994 of the duty on councils to provide Traveller sites. We
recognise that the shortage of Traveller sites has caused hardship and
difficulties for both the Traveller and wider communities. It is now time
for genuine dialogue to take place and we call upon local politicians and
the media to make greater effort to foster an environment conducive to
such debate. We commend the Essex Fire Brigade Service and Equalities and
Human Rights Commission for initiating dialogue and a proposed series of
talks between Travellers and Basildon Council.
Rt Revd Thomas McMahon, Roman Catholic Bishop of Brentwood
Rt Revd John Gladwin, Church of England Bishop of Chelmsford
Lord Avebury, Secretary of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Gypsy and
Traveller Law Reform
Julie Morgan MP, Chair of the APPG on Gypsy and Traveller Law Reform
Baroness Whitaker, Vice Chair of the APPG on Gypsy and Traveller Law
Traveller Law Reform Project - including the Irish Traveller Movement in
Britain, the Gypsy Council, Friends Families and Travellers, The London
Gypsy & Traveller Unit.