Essex

Dale Farm travellers in defiant mood

  • 23 September 2011
  • From the section Essex
Dale Farm travellers
Travellers are said to be positive about the future

By now it should have been emptied - its people moved on, the fight lost.

The hardcore plots of land they know as home, ripped up by the bailiffs' diggers.

Instead, there is a transformation. In just a few days, Dale Farm has come alive again.

A community of travellers who did not want to travel are flocking back.

Actually they had not gone far, simply hitching their trailers, packing up their crockery, and children.

In a game of cat and mouse, they crammed on to pitches on the side of the camp that is legal.

Now the mood has altered. The defiance against the rules which has brought them this 10-year conflict has never wavered.

Swapping rumours

A positive energy flows, and not just the electricity which remains on despite a warning from the council that it would be cut on Monday ahead of the planned eviction.

People are smiling; the men are back, fixing satellite aerials outside their vans, swapping rumours about road blocks.

Just a few days ago, these streets belonged to the protestors in their boiler suits and masks, who guarded the entrance to the illegal camp and decided who could pass.

Now children roam on their bikes.

Much more like it used to be when I first started coming here.

Kathleen McCarthy feeds mashed potato to a toddler grandchild. Her sisters are beside her on the wall and they are smiling.

Little protection

They have their family back. For now all fears have gone. The talk is all of a battle won and a future for the community.

And yet another High Court decision looms. Basildon Council clearly sees the delay as a costly irritant. Their machine is ready to roll.

The mood, the very life blood of Dale Farm, could change in an instant.

For now, there is little protection. Many of the camp protestors have, temporarily at least, disappeared.

The fear of a High Court judge's wrath has forced them to remove some of the barriers.

But the barricades have been moved aside. Some could be easily erected again.

The travellers have led a charmed life these past few years. Their luck has not run out. This legal fight could drag on still longer.

And yet the bailiffs could return any day. Right now, that is something the travellers are not even contemplating.

On Monday, the bailiffs would have faced many empty plots and dispensable immovable old chalets.

This time, the residents trailers stand on the gravel plots. There is much more of their lives to protect.

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