There`s an awful lot of fuss in Essex about the impending eviction of `travellers` from an illegal camp at Crays Hill near Basildon. It`s not the only site in the country which has had a visitation from `travellers` and in fact we`ve had a few here in our small village in what`s laughably called the Garden of England. It seems to be common occurrence.
But the Essex saga has caught the public imagination for some years now as the struggle between blatant law breaking and human rights is played out and which could lead to a mass eviction from the site after midnight tonight when the latest in a series of court orders banning the `travellers` from the site might well be enforced by a coalition of police and bailiffs.
On the human rights side, why am I not surprised that a succession of well-to-do `celebrities,` the latest being Vanessa Redgrave (pictured), are leading the cries for the `travellers` to be allowed to remain on the illegal site they have illegally occupied for something like ten years? I quite expect the insufferable Bono and his mate Geldof to start banging the drum too. They, like Redgrave, seem to relish in their self-appointed role as guardians of the oppressed and yet I somehow doubt they will invite the `travellers` to stay on their respective estates.
The legal side is very clear - or at least is should be - in that planning consent for the establishment and occupation of this green belt site has not been granted, neither should it be if the planning law of this country is to mean anything at all.
But there are issues involved which fuel confusion - planning law, eviction notices, court orders, housing issues, social and welfare concerns, environmental health problems and even a last minute injunction being sought to secure yet another delay. I`ve no idea how it might all end but there is one thing above all else that confuses me and it`s this. I thought the whole idea of being a `traveller` was to travel - the love of the open road and all that. Not to insist on staying put in some Essex backwater and refusing to `travel on.` No wonder I`m confused.