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As the man behind the eviction of Dale Farm is nominated for 'Councillor Of The Year'

Earlier this week Westminster City Hall held the C'llr Achievement Awards 2012. Organised by the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) this was an opportunity for local councillors to receive a pat on the back and a jolly good handshake from Eric Pickles for all the sterling work they have been doing over the past year.

One surprising nomination for Councillor of the year was Tony Ball, leader of Basildon Council, whose main achievement this year was the violent eviction of 83 families from their own land at Dale Farm. Having spent ten years in office trying to eradicate travellers from Essex it seems ludicrous that someone felt he could deserve such an accolade especially after wasting up to 18 million of tax payers money on a pursuit that can only have been driven by pure hatred and racist beliefs.

Luckily common sense prevailed for although he failed to win councillor of the year the Traveller Solidarity Network (TSN) were there to present him with their own award of 'Community-Wrecker of the Year'. On leaving the awards Tony was confronted by demonstrators and had to beat a hasty retreat back into the building.

Unfortunately this is not the last we will be hearing from Tony and his ongoing plans for Dale Farm and its displaced residents. Already this year much has been happening in this little borough of Essex.

Firstly Tony Ball and his council had to accept responsibility for the destruction of the electricity network that they ripped out during the eviction and they have finally replaced the power lines. So now the families that are allowed to remain on their own land can (theoretically at least) have an electricity supply. Unfortunately none of the big electricity companies will supply them, leaving them literally in the dark. Why this is we can only speculate for past bills have always been paid.

This is just one of the points that should make it into the U.N. Commissioner's report following his second visit to Dale Farm to look at the disgusting way Tony Ball and his bully boy bailiffs Constant and Co left the land that was once home to a community of elderly and young travellers - a place that was also a refuge for many of the families who in the past have faced violence and persecution from the both the state and other individuals.

Tony Ball was apparently annoyed that this visit was leaked to the media, feeling that his constituents should not be aware that the United Nations still have concerns regarding Basildon's treatment of Irish Travellers.

Tony stated that he was glad that the electricity supply had been reinstated on the licensed plots, as it now meant that he could take further enforcement action, against the plots on the legal site, who were harbouring the families, giving them a place to park their homes and recover from the trauma they have experienced. Tony is adamant that all travellers will be forced to leave Essex as he offers them an ultimatum - evict your families or you will loose your license, and thus your plot and you too will be homeless.


Dale Farm is still taking up court time as this saga continues. In Chelmsford Magistrates Court journalists from the BBC, ITN and Sky News have been ordered to hand over hours of unbroadcast footage of the Dale Farm evictions after losing a court battle against Essex police. Although they are challenging this ruling, fearing that in the future journalists will be viewed as evidence gatherers for the state. This material is expected to be handed over in the next few weeks.

A test case was heard in the Court of Appeal on Wednesday and Thursday this week as travellers from the Dale Farm Community take Basildon Council to task demanding the right to be re-housed in 'culturally appropriate accommodation'. The appeal represents a landmark case for Travellers' rights as they ask for a home for their homes.

One final bit of good news from Basildon Council who have recently granted planning permission for a home for abandoned dogs on a piece of green belt land just a small distance along the A127 from Dale Farm. This land has never been built on and was previously used for car booties, but who cares about another bit of destruction to the Green Belt - it's only nature. Yet again Basildon Council demonstrate their priorities - while they may have been able to find a home for stray dogs, caring about the travelling population is a compassionate step too far.

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