On Tuesday 7th September, the eviction of seven Traveller families began at the Hovefields site in Essex. At 8 in the morning bailiffs Constant & Co, accompanied by police, arrived at the site and began telling families to leave their homes. The bailiffs occupied a pitch at the site, which they made a base for their operations, and then proceeded to bring in diggers to smash plots of ground, preventing later re-entry.
Many individuals attended the eviction as legal observers and monitors of human rights and health and safety. They documented the eviction, and identified numerous breaches of international human rights law, including the failure to provide alternative housing, the disruption to children's education, and the failure to keep heavy machinery within the safety perimeter. There were no authorized government representatives present and bailiffs and police refused to facilitate legal observers' access to the site. When these issues were brought up with the police overseeing the eviction process, they refused to respond, maintaining that they were there to prevent breaches of the peace by those resisting eviction, no matter the legality of the operation itself.
Two supporters were arrested early in the day, and a seventy-two year old man, John Lee, had his nose fractured after his face was smashed into his caravan before legal observers arrived.
At the end of the day, one pitch had been bulldozed, and three families had left the site. The other four families whose pitches are being evicted stayed, though the bailiffs had already cut off access to electricity and water for the majority of the site. The families who left the Hovefields site went to a nearby unoccupied site that had previously been earmarked by the national government as a potential resettlement area; but this move was refused by Basildon Council, eager to chase the Traveller community out of Essex. Police arrived at 9 this morning with a 3 hour ultimatum for the families to move on. The eviction is likely to be ongoing through this week.
Dale Farm (Essex), the biggest Travellers community, is next under threat (it's going to happen within the next 3 weeks) and it's the same bailiff company involved. They see Hovefields as a dry run for what is going to be the biggest eviction in British history.
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