The price you pay for providing your own housing solution

On Wednesday 27th October, there was a small protest at the Hovefields travellers site along the A127 against the continuing campaign of harassment being waged by the authorities against the residents living there.

This was the call out to mobilise support for the protest:

Father calls for action over son’s unjust imprisonment

Drive2Survive activists decided at a meeting last night [18 Oct] to press on with their campaign against the anti-Traveller clauses of the Police Bill now before the British Parliament.

As the Bill receives further proposed amendments and debate, Traveller and Roma activists, along with supporters, will gather at 12 noon on 27 October at Hovefields Avenue, which together with nearby Dale Farm has again become the flash point where much about the future of the Travelling Way of Life is being decided.

“They told us buy your own land”, said Bill Anderson. “But when we went ahead and laid out our own yards they put my son in prison.”

Anderson was assured if they undid the work and ploughed up the land, Charlie Anderson would at once be released from his seven-month term in jail.

Contrary to reports, this has not happened.

Both Dale Farm and Hovefields fall within the municipal jurisdiction of Basildon, Essex, a borough with a notorious reputation arising from its large-scale evictions. Over a hundred Traveller and Romani homes have been demolished, and unless halted, the destruction is set to continue.

Proposals to carry out housing developments at both locations – with the inclusion of 60 pitches for Travellers – have long been stalled.

Two delegates from Basildon and Southend Housing Action went along to the protest to show solidarity with the travellers.

This is how the situation is being covered in the local media: Jail for man who flouted and ignored directives on land where caravans were placed – 19.10.21. Note the inherent bias in the article with no attempt made to put the travellers side of the story.

Basildon Council have a long and inglorious history of denigrating, hassling and persecuting travellers, first at Dale Farm and now at Hovefields. This is regardless of the political make up of the council. Labour have been as enthusiastic as the Tories in displaying their anti-traveller sentiments: Basildon Labour s*** stirring over traveller sites – September 23, 2018. Over the years, the council have thrown an eye-watering amount of money at efforts to contain, control and evict travellers as this article from July-August 2006 issue of Peace News shows: No-one is illegal – not even in Essex! Money that should have been better spent on easing the council’s (rigged) housing waiting list.

Bear in mind that this is coming from a council that’s happy for a rash of apartment blocks (up to 12 storeys but no more) to spring up across Basildon town centre. Apartment blocks aimed at affluent young commuters. Basically social cleansing because none of these apartment blocks will do anything to solve the housing needs of the people of Basildon. So, when Basildon Council continue to put the boot into the travelling community, take a step back and ask what’s actually going on. It’s classic divide and rule tactics that are trying to get the people of Basildon hating the travellers rather than a council which is not doing anything of significance to house people on the waiting list.

What’s this really all about? In it’s simplest terms, it’s about the authorities loathing of anyone who has the temerity to provide their own, relatively low cost housing solution. This detestation of anyone adopting an ad hoc, do it yourself approach to getting a roof over their heads is not new in this region – it goes all the way back to the denigration of the plotlanders in Laindon, Basildon and Pitsea whose makeshift but much loved homes were written off as nothing more than a ‘sprawling rural slum’. Once the plotlands had been written off like this, it made the job of compulsory purchase, eviction and levelling of existing homes to make way for the planned estates of the new town easier for the authorities.

Whether it’s a cabin or a mobile home that’s providing a roof over someone’s head, they’ve found a housing solution that eats up a lot less of their (precarious) income that paying an eye-watering amount in rent to an extortionate landlord. It also means not being shackled to paying off a mortgage for thirty years of your life. Basically, it means people have gained a bit of independence from a system that wants us slogging our guts out for decades just to secure a roof over our heads. The last thing the authorities want is a growing number of people who have a bit of independence from a system of wage slavery where we’re encouraged to see ourselves in competition with and fearful of each other rather than having any sense of solidarity. They’d rather have the obedient commuters in their new town centre apartments dutifully paying their taxes and spending their money as good consumers do.

This is why anyone who opts for a low cost housing solution such as a mobile home ends up being demonised while the rest of us who are mug enough to pay an extortionate amount in rent or a mortgage are egged on to hate them. The problem is that too many people buy into this demonisation of mobile home dwellers while celebrating the long hours they slog their guts out just to hand over a significant chunk of that to a landlord or a mortgage company. The question is this – do we willingly accept this divide and rule crap, or do we take a step back, think about the situation we’re in, and then offer our support to anyone who’s trying to buck a system that keeps screwing us over?

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