Protesters have marked the first anniversary of the clearance of the traveller site in Dale Farm in Basildon in Essex.
Police were called to Westminster as protesters, angry at the eviction of the travellers' site a year ago, tried to storm a Government Department.
One hundred people turned up to demonstrate. Some tried to gain entry into the offices of the Department for Communities and Local Government building, to try and 'evict' the department's secretary Eric Pickles.
A year ago, after a 10-year battle, bailiffs moved in to evict dozens of families from the Dale Farm Travellers' site.
Residents clashed with police and the eviction made headlines across the world.
Twelve months later, Paul Brand has this special report.
Today protesters targeted central government for the role they played in supporting the eviction last year, after protesters assembled at Victoria Station at 1pm.
The Traveller Solidarity Network organised the protest. The group emerged from
the Dale Farm eviction resistance, where supporters from across the UK and Europe
joined Dale Farm residents to resist the eviction of 83 families.
The Dale Farm eviction was a historic moment. The scale and cost of the
eviction was unprecedented, as was the outpouring of support for the Dale Farm
Supporters ranging from the United Nations, European Commission,
Amnesty International, church groups, anti-cuts groups, local residents and other
concerned individuals came together to fight against the eviction.
One year later, supporters are reaffirming the importance of Dale Farm as an example
of an injustice that concerns all of us. The Fight for Sites campaign aims to highlight
the severe lack of sites in the UK, leading to evictions like the one at Dale Farm a year
The Traveller Solidarity Network targeted the Department for Communities and Local Government because they say they are leading the attack on Traveller communities and overseeing legislation like the Localism Act.
They also contributed £1.2 million to the Dale Farm eviction, adding to funding from the Home Office and Basildon Council
At the Conservative Party Conference, Eric Pickles announced a proposal for unlimited
fines for travellers temporarily stopping without permission.
Dale Farm was initially bought and set up by families wanting to create homes for
themselves safe from the endless cycle of evictions, seeking a normal life and an
education for their children. On 19th October 2011, Basildon Borough Council carried
out a forced eviction of families at Dale Farm, Essex, supposedly to uphold
greenbelt planning laws.
The bailiffs dug huge trenches and banks across the site, rupturing sewage tanks in the
process and turning the close-knit community into an uninhabitable and contaminated
The Environmental Agency are currently testing soil samples for evidence of
asbestos, testament to the sites use as a scrap yard before the Dale Farm families
bought the land.
Since the eviction, the homeless families have been living on the roadside leading to
their former homes, without adequate access to electricity, sanitation or running water.
Basildon Council has recently pursued further legal action against the families in order
to push them out of the borough and they face another eviction in the coming months.
Earlier this year, the government made £60m available in funding for new and improved
sites for the next 15 years. Many councils, including those with the largest traveller
populations, simply are not applying for the funding, leaving £13 million unawarded.
As a result, this funding has translated into only 510 additional pitches, representing less
than a tenth of the identified need. As local anti-traveller campaigns spring up against
plans for new sites, it is likely that many of these will not receive planning permission,
and the funding will have to be returned.