The Great Debate UK

Dale Farm highlights need for new approach to travellers


By Mark Hillary. The opinions expressed are his own.

The Dale Farm barricades are being dismantled and all political eyes are now focused on the party conference season. Just yesterday, Nick Clegg managed to impress the Lib Dem faithful in Birmingham, though convincing the voters that all is well with the good ship Lib Dem might be a bigger challenge for the Deputy PM.

But as the dust settles on Dale Farm, have we learned anything from the fiasco where Basildon Council attempted to evict 52 families from their homes, with no option of staying in the area due to there being no other local authorised sites for travellers?

It would appear not. Some travellers are now dispersing to other illegal sites throughout the south of England and the council is fighting tooth and nail to get the injunction preventing eviction quashed – so they can carry on.

The issue for the council is simple. A group of travellers on an authorised site purchased some adjoining land and started expanding their site into the new area. They own the land, but had not been granted planning permission for the extended site.