"I have long argued that the giving of offence, and even hate speech, should be a moral matter but not a matter for the criminal law. That is as true on the football pitch as on the streets. We should always challenge racism. We should also always challenge attacks on liberties in the guise of faux antiracism." Kenan Malik

Gypsy’s and Travellers


Dear friends

Community Legal Advice are not renewing the funding for our highly successful advice line from end of March due to cost cutting measures.

However CLP are setting up their own advice line for Gypsies and Travellers throughout England and Wales on 0121 685 8677.

The service goes live on Monday 27th February 2012.

No Operator Service involved. Get straight through to one of our expert solicitors.

Advice line available Monday to Friday 9.00am to 5.00pm. Emergency service available outside these hours.

We take on legal aid cases involving ‘accommodation’ issues e.g. evictions from unauthorised encampments, issues on rented sites (both council and private), homelessness cases, high court planning appeals, planning injunctions, stop notices, direct action cases etc

For a chat about how the service operates and about the work we do please phone us on this new number.

A poster about the service will be sent out as soon as possible.

Best wishes

Chris Johnson

The Community Law Partnership


Living With The Enemy-New Travellers Episode

An episode from 1998 which sees a Tory Councillor staying a week with New Travellers.

Whilst the lives of travellers have over the last decade changed drastically since this was made with many forced off the road due to more and more legislation, it’s interesting to note Tories remain the same…completely anal and still wishing to dictate how the rest of us should live out our lives!



FORTY YEARS after the lst World Romani Congress anti-Gypsy racism across Europe is at its worst. Not far from the London location of that historic gathering riot police armed with stun-guns recently stormed the barricades of the Dale Farm estate.
That violent assault failed to break up the community and a hundred families continue to cling on to the land they own. Dale Farm is being gradulaly re-established through claims for illegal property damage, fresh planning appeals and a high court case which could force Basildon District Council to provide for those made homeless by their pitiless but unsuccessful 20 million euro ethnic-cleansing operation.
The London Congress proclaimed the opening date 8 April to be Roma Nation Day.
Over past decades it has been celebrated by several thousands of event in sixty countries, including India. They have been both festive and demonstrative. Occasionally they have gone off message by adopting such titles as International Roma Day and even, in the l980s, Cigandan. Most notable include that attended by President Kostunica of Yugoslavia at the junction of the Sava and Danube, when Roma victims of the fascist genocide were
remembered. Big demonstrations have been seen over the years in Sibiu, Belgrade, Skopje, Prague and Budapest, and in German and Italian towns following forced deporations and destruction of camps.
Attempts to link up the celebrations around the world under the theme of RiverCeremonies brough about gatherings beside the Rhein, Adige, Ghaghar, Garonne, Vardar, Volga,Thames and a dozen other major rivers.
There was too the 8 April Wave of Light commencing with the lighting of a candle by the Dalai Lama, visited by Prof. Ian Hancock. Another year the Millennium of the Exodus from India was remembered when veteran of the lst Congress Juan Ramirez reminded us: “We have to fight even harder today against injustice and racism.”
Because of  the worsening situation – further murders in Hungary, relentless deportations by Germany and France, and brutal evictions in the UK, Italy and Serbia – the need for united action and protest has become ever more urgent.
There’s now increasing demand by the younger generation, and more especially by the huge numbers of those who have suffered at the hands of merciless authorities, neo-facist and vigilante groups, that the Romani movement show a more militant face in response to deliberate marginalization and repression of our communities.
Support for a co-ordinated mobilization on Roma Nation Day 2012 is growing.
Gjuner Abdula, president of the IRU parliament says he wants to see activists from all the leading organizations, including the ERTF and ERU, and smaller groups, working together to plan the biggest yet demonstrations in towns and cities across Europe and the globe.
Meanwhile, an initiative to assist in this mobilization for Roma Day 8 April 2012 is being considered by activists in London angered and motivated by the Dale Farm experience. Those who would like to link up with us can contact dale.farm@btinternet.com

#ITMBritain Conference Delegates Barred From Entering Coronet Public House On Holloway Road

People attending a conference of the Irish Travellers Movement in Britain were barred from entering the Coronet pub, a Wetherspoons establishment, next to the Resource Centre in Holloway Road where the conference was held. Even a police inspector who had spoken to the conference was prevented from entering with other people who had attended the conference. People who had been at a completely different event at the Resource Centre were barred because they were suspected of having attended the Travellers conference. Apparently this was a CORPORATE decision by Wetherspoon’s centrally after they heard that this conference was taking place.

The Travellers Solidarity Network invites you to an event NEXT FRIDAY 9th DECEMBER at 5pm outside the Coronet on Holloway Road to show what we think about this racism. Bring yourselves, your voices, banners, placards and musical instruments!

The Coronet is about 100 yards East of the junction with Tollington Road and about half a mile west of Holloway Tube Station (Piccadilly line). Buses: 43, 271, 153, 4, 29, 91, 253, 259.

After Dale Farm, Where Next For #Travellers Solidarity?

The protests around Dale Farm have seen unprecedented solidarity from the settled community. This is just the beginning. All are welcome to this gathering to discuss what activities and actions we want to plan in the future. From Traveller education, to legal support and monitoring, to advocacy and direct action — join us as we launch the Traveller Solidarity Network and decide what form it will take.

05 November · 11:00 – 16:00

Cityside House,

40 Adler St,

London E1 1EE

Please rsvp to savedalefarm [at] gmail.com to attend.

#DaleFarm: a community with nowhere to go by Roxy Freeman

Guardian ‘comment is free’ article



On Tuesday night I fell asleep with a heavy heart after hearing the news that the clearance at Dale Farm  was likely to start the following morning. I hoped that, overnight, common sense would prevail and a forced eviction would not take place, but I awoke to the inevitable sight of riot police storming the camp  at dawn.

For the residents of Dale Farm, and Gypsies and Travellers all over the world, their worst nightmare was finally coming true. “They’re breaking the law,” I hear many of you cry, “It’s green belt land.” And you are right: it is an illegal camp, and if we want to live in a civilised society we must all uphold the law, no matter what background or culture we come from.

But the law is not black and white, and these people have certainly been let down by the system. Legal wrangling aside, the reality is that hundreds of human beings are about to be dragged from their homes and forced on to the roads.

My overriding emotions are sadness and confusion. I’m writing this from a caravan on my father’s land: it is parked here legally, but the memories of countless evictions from my childhood are etched in my mind. When I look up I expect to see the men in Day-Glo coats walking towards me and I’m filled with a sense of dread. I know how the Irish Travellers at Dale Farm feel as their life crumbles around them and they have nowhere to go. Hopeless is the only word that can describe it.

Most people in the UK don’t want them at Dale Farm or anywhere else in the country. Over 90% of those who responded to a recent poll believe a forced eviction is the right outcome. I won’t use many of the sensationalist terms being thrown around by some of the activists and Travellers involved in the eviction, and I don’t think this is a case of ethnic cleansing; but do I know first-hand how unaccepted the nomadic lifestyle is today. It doesn’t matter how quiet, clean or law-abiding you are, if you live in a caravan you are scum in the eyes of most of the British  population.

Gone are the days when the government actively tried to defuse the tension and hostility between settled and travelling people. Sites are not being created, and budgets given to councils to do so are being used for other “more pressing” issues. It is a case of: “Not on my patch.”

Basildon council leader Tony Ball pulled out of discussions with the Homes and Communities Agency – who offered land to rehouse the Dale Farm families within Essex and within a suitable distance to the children’s school. In my opinion that was because keeping them within his borough would lose votes, and votes seem to be more important than human welfare.

A peaceful solution was never going to be found because Ball apparently believes that Basildon already has more than its quota of Travellers. Swap the word Travellers with any other ethnic group and ask yourself if that is an acceptable position to take.

For the Dale Farm community the tragic reality remains: they have nowhere to go. As they exit the site they will be greeted by blocked-up tracks and barricaded lanes, parks with trenches dug around them, and car parks with a heavy security presence. They’ll end up in laybys, the children will have no chance of an education, and their quality of life will be appalling. But at least they won’t be in Basildon.

People all over the country cheer the enforcement officers on, relishing the scenes of distress and trauma. I ask: whatever happened to human compassion?

Dale Farm – The View from the Local Primary School


We are proud to have Cray’s Hill Primary School  – ‘the worst school in the England’ – in the family of schools we work with and we invited the school’s chair of governors, Jo Lang, to give the school’s view of the battle raging over the Dale Farm traveller community. This is what she has to say:

There has never been an Irish Traveller eviction in Britain to hit the headlines in the way the Dale Farm land clearance has.  National and international media, the United Nations, the European Union, politicians, police, actors, activists, artists…all of human life is here.

Most of the children on the Dale Farm Traveller site of primary school age come to Crays Hill Primary, and we are happy to have them.  We have other children, some English Travellers, some local non-Travellers, some children who have been given-up on by other schools, but the vast majority are of Irish Traveller heritage.

Ten years ago, a small legal Traveller site near Basildon began to expand on to land the occupants owned but didn’t have planning permission to live on.  The children came to the school, becoming pawns in the village community’s battle to have the pitches without permission cleared and the Travellers moved off. Numbers of Travellers in the school swelled; increasingly village people took their children out, the balance shifted until the Governors walked out in protest. Here we are now, waiting for the bailiffs to start an eviction which will touch the lives of all our children, and strike at the heart of the school community we have built up.

I’ve been chair of governors for the last six years, proud to be associated with the challenges and rewards of a completely unique, very special school, with an amazing, dedicated and child-focussed Headteacher, so with a deep breath and long practice, here is a beginner’s guide to Dale Farm and Crays Hill Primary…

Question 1

Isn’t Crays Hill the pikey school?

Crays Hill is a community school and we take any child whose parents want to send them here.  And, by the way, would you call a school in Stratford a paki school?

Question 2

Pikey isn’t racist.  And anyway, they call us ‘Gorjers’.

‘Pikey ‘is the equivalent of ‘Paki’ or ‘Nigger’.  ‘Gorjers’ is what some Travellers sometimes call non-Travellers.  It does have negative overtones and, of course, that makes responding in kind absolutely OK because we all know two wrongs make a right, don’t we..

Question 3

If they live in one place, they can’t be Travellers, can they?

If I went and lived in France, that would make me French, wouldn’t it?  If an Indian lives in Britain, that makes them British, right?  Being an Irish Traveller is being part of a recognised minority ethnic group. It is a heritage, a way of life, a racial identity and a culture.

Question 4

If they are Travellers, why do they want to live in one place?

There is no room in our society for Travellers to live on the road, roaming from place to place, sharpening knives and helping at harvest.  Our families travel from Ireland, to John O’Groats, across Europe and as far as Australia to work. They also travel to be with family for weddings, births and funerals.  But they need to have a place to come back to, where they can have their kids in school, access healthcare, and live their lives when they aren’t travelling.

Question 5

They’ve broken the law and the law of the land should be applied equally to all. 

Well, yes it should, and they don’t have planning permission to live on one side of the Dale Farm site. Bear in mind, though, that 95% of applications for planning permission put forward by Travellers are turned down, Green Belt or not.  No other ethnic group suffers this much discrimination at the hands of planning authorities, and it is mostly because nothing unites the people of a village like a campaign against Travellers. Do you think this will improve as the Government develops the opportunity for local residents to have a bigger say in planning decisions?

Question 6

Crays Hill School has the lowest attendance rates and the lowest attainment of any school in the country, so it must be rubbish, mustn’t it?

Not one but two Ofsted reports say we are ‘Good with Outstanding Features’. Our attendance rate last academic year was 41%.  Travellers travel and we keep their places open for them so that as soon as they are back they are in school, with no extra forms to fill in and no time lost.  They may only be here for a day, a week, a month, but while they are with us they will get the best possible education. So it knocks our attendance figures. We have data to show that when they are able to attend they do attend, and while they are here their progress is good. Statistically, there are things we could do to improve the data, but actually, isn’t education about children?

The list of questions goes on and on, and so does the discrimination.  Irish Travellers have the worst health statistics of any racial group in the UK, and live, on average, ten years less than the national average.  They have the worst educational outcomes of any group.

Imagine between a third and half the pupils in your school could be made homeless tomorrow.  Think what high levels of anxiety they and their friends and extended family would be feeling and showing. Think what would happen if you lost perhaps 50% of your per capita income next year.  How would you keep staff motivated, passionate and professional when they know the land clearance could cost them their jobs?  Imagine that a third or more of your pupils will be living on the roadside, education limited to travelling packs that are probably meaningless and indecipherable to their parents and then tell us how you would raise their attainment when/if they return to school.

Our vision for Crays Hill is that it is the school of first choice for all parents in our catchment area, where children learn together, play together, respect each other and breakdown the barriers their parents have built.

After six years of trying it doesn’t feel like we are much furter forward (and if you have any thoughts or recommendations from your own experiences then please them on via learn@independentthinking.co.uk) but we will keep trying and stay focussed on what school shod be about – giving every child the best possible opportunity to learn and grow.