Travellers braced for war with UK government
Britain's gypsies and travellers are bracing themselves for "a state of war" as council chiefs, encouraged by the coalition government, move to bulldoze the homes of hundreds of people who live on the largest traveller site in the country, writes Jerome Taylor.
Councillors in Basildon, Essex, will meet tonight to approve the £8m (€9.2m) eviction plan for Dale Farm, a sprawling traveller site that is home to 96 families.
The inhabitants have vowed to resist any attempt to evict them. One resident, named only as Nora, told the 'Travellers' Times' website: "We've things up our sleeves. It will be like Belfast if they come in here. They haven't a clue what they're up against."
Last week Prime Minister David Cameron encouraged the evictions by describing his "sense of unfairness that one law applied to everybody else and, on too many occasions, another law applies to travellers".
The coalition has also done away with a string of measures that were brought in to protect traveller communities.
Travellers fear that the new Localism Bill, which will give local communities more say in the planning process, will return the UK to the mid-1990s when travellers felt persecuted.
The coalition has also ended the Gypsy and Traveller Sites Grant, which provided £96m to local authorities to build new sites for settlements.
About two-thirds of the Dale Farm site has been built without planning permission.