Today as I write this, 86 families on a converted scrap yard in Essex are waiting for the bailiffs to make them homeless.
They have been living on the self-contained site for up to 10 years and own the land their homes are built on, but because some of them don’t have planning permission, they are going to be forcefully ejected and their homes demolished when the bulldozers do their worst.
Those expressing grave concern about the evictions include Bishops, The Children’s Society, and a United Nations representative who has claimed that the eviction breaks international law.
All this at the same time as the government constantly wrings its hands about the lack of affordable homes, lack of investment, and is itself changing planning law to enable big developers to access new green-field sites with much greater ease.
Is it just me, or is there a stark contradiction here?
One the one hand we have government at every level trying, but failing year on year, to solve our housing crisis. On the other, we have 86 Traveller families who have erected their homes at no cost to the tax-payer, being thrown out (at great cost to the tax payer) and their homes torn down.
But perhaps there is the rub – they are Travellers. Having lived in both inner-city London, and rural middle-England, I have noticed that while it is increasing unacceptable to be racist in general, there is still one group who are routinely vilified with impunity – Travellers.
Until we learn that you can’t pick and choose which prejudices are acceptable and which are not, there will continue to be people and authorities who make an ass of themselves and the law.
In the meantime, my heart goes out to the families of Dale Farm, and I pray that the God of justice and compassion will hear their cry.