Date: Sat, September 3, 2005 7:19 am

Ustiben report
By Grattan Puxon

MP Bob Russell (Liberal Democrat) will be visiting Travellers shortly to show support for their campaign for legal places to live and education for their children.

His first call will be to families who have just re-occupied the closed Essex county council caravan site at Haven Road, Colchester, in his own constituency.

"This site was shut down four years ago," said Mr Russell. "They have been dragging their feet about opening a new one to replace it."

He also feels that the present Labour Government has delayed far to long in formulating policy on the needs of the Travelling community. Russell believes land must be set aside for more council and private-ownership mobile-home parks.

Starting with the stand made by 85 families who own land at Dale Farm, Basildon, the campaign in Essex is now rapidly broadening. Yard-owners at nearby Hovesfield Avenue, like those are Dale Farm, have obtained the protection of a High Court injunction preventing their eviction by force.

The decision to destroy some l50 homes on private land at Dale Farm and Hovesfield Avenue is to be the subject of a judicial review.

Basildon district council has set aside some five million Euro to bulldoze their homes. It has employed "Gypsy eviction specialists" Contant & Co., who in turn are hiring the heavy bulldozers from H E Services.

Chairman of this company Mr Hugh Edeleanu has been asked by Jewish Human Rights Monitors to stop making his machinary available for the destruction of homes. He has so far not responded.

"We are going to court on Tuesday," said Travellers' spokesman Martin Ward, at Haven Road. "Hopefully we can get a similar injunction and maybe a judicial review."

They have applied for legal aid through the Community Law Partnership, in Birmingham, who have agreed to take up their case. Essex county council is applying initially for re-possession of the land.

Dale Farm residents and other Travellers will join Roma in St Paul's Cathedral, London, for the Tenth Annual Racial Justice Sunday 5 pm on 11 September, at the invitation of Churches Together through Toma Nikolaeff, chair of the Trans-European Roma Federation.

A SAVE DALE FARM banner, along with a large blue and green Romani flag, embossed with a red wheel, will be paraded through the cathedral. Those who would like to participate can email Michael Sheridan ( a t )