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Published on October 21st, 2011 | by David Christie
Image © [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="240" caption="The entrance to the Dale Farm site, two months before the eviction took place. Image from Save Dale Farm's photostream"]The entrance to the Dale Farm site, two months before the eviction took place.  Image from Save Dale Farm's photostream[/caption] Supporters of the on-going Dale Farm eviction, including the Prime Minister, defend it on the grounds that the planning laws must be enforced to protect green belt land.  But the government’s stance is contradictory, when you consider that their own National Planning Policy Framework poses a much greater threat to green belt land and the countryside than travelling communities.  The buildings which could be constructed by property developers if the NPPF goes ahead are likely to be far bigger and more numerous than those built by travellers.  This demonstrates breath-taking hypocrisy on the part of the government: they are effectively saying that you cannot build a small bungalow on green belt land if you are a traveller, but you can build a large housing development on green belt land if you are a wealthy property developer who has donated money to the Conservative Party. The right-wing tabloid press have been misleading on this issue.  For example, look at this article by Daily Mail columnist Clive Aslet, in which he argues that travellers have been given special treatment under the current planning laws.  He refers to the government’s proposed changes to the planning system, but does not mention the possibility that property developers could be given special treatment under these new rules.  Instead, he focuses on the allegation that the new planning system will enable travellers to exploit the rules. Aslet then brings up the case of Victoria Campbell, who has been forbidden by Havant Council from living in a shed in her parents’ garden, and will have to pay a fine if she does not move out.  Aslet claims that Miss Campbell is in a worse position than the travellers, because, unlike them, she is not able to use European human rights legislation to argue her case.  However, in reality she is in a much better position, because the council is only threatening to fine her, not to send in the riot police to turf her whole family out into the street.  This fact demonstrates the real double standard in this situation. For most people, breaking the planning laws merely results in the council forcing you to dismantle the structure you have built.  But if you are a member of a travelling community, breaking the planning laws results in riot police armed with tasers turning up to force you out of your home.  This eviction is not really about the enforcement of planning regulations, but about the persecution of an ethnic minority.  The government and the tabloid press should be ashamed of themselves for supporting it.

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Government hypocrisy and tabloid dishonesty over the Dale Farm eviction

The entrance to the Dale Farm site, two months before the eviction took place.  Image from Save Dale Farm's photostream

The entrance to the Dale Farm site, two months before the eviction took place. Image from Save Dale Farm's photostream

Supporters of the on-going Dale Farm eviction, including the Prime Minister, defend it on the grounds that the planning laws must be enforced to protect green belt land.  But the government’s stance is contradictory, when you consider that their own National Planning Policy Framework poses a much greater threat to green belt land and the countryside than travelling communities.  The buildings which could be constructed by property developers if the NPPF goes ahead are likely to be far bigger and more numerous than those built by travellers.  This demonstrates breath-taking hypocrisy on the part of the government: they are effectively saying that you cannot build a small bungalow on green belt land if you are a traveller, but you can build a large housing development on green belt land if you are a wealthy property developer who has donated money to the Conservative Party.

The right-wing tabloid press have been misleading on this issue.  For example, look at this article by Daily Mail columnist Clive Aslet, in which he argues that travellers have been given special treatment under the current planning laws.  He refers to the government’s proposed changes to the planning system, but does not mention the possibility that property developers could be given special treatment under these new rules.  Instead, he focuses on the allegation that the new planning system will enable travellers to exploit the rules.

Aslet then brings up the case of Victoria Campbell, who has been forbidden by Havant Council from living in a shed in her parents’ garden, and will have to pay a fine if she does not move out.  Aslet claims that Miss Campbell is in a worse position than the travellers, because, unlike them, she is not able to use European human rights legislation to argue her case.  However, in reality she is in a much better position, because the council is only threatening to fine her, not to send in the riot police to turf her whole family out into the street.  This fact demonstrates the real double standard in this situation.

For most people, breaking the planning laws merely results in the council forcing you to dismantle the structure you have built.  But if you are a member of a travelling community, breaking the planning laws results in riot police armed with tasers turning up to force you out of your home.  This eviction is not really about the enforcement of planning regulations, but about the persecution of an ethnic minority.  The government and the tabloid press should be ashamed of themselves for supporting it.

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