Tuesday, January 09, 2007

"Shrewd, Smart and Getting Richer"

Our local paper the Echo is publishing a series of articles about the activities of a large group of travellers who are occupying land at Crays Hill in Basildon. They've had a big impact on their area- by last summer, of the 50 pupils at the local primary school, all but one were from traveller families.

The Echo's report makes interesting reading, and here's a sample:

Travellers fighting to stay at Crays Hill because they have "nowhere else to go" can today be exposed as shrewd, money-making developers.

Next month, Dale Farm could be legalised by the Government when it announces its final decision following last summer's public inquiry.

If all 52 illegal plots gain planning permission, each will be worth around £150,000. The camp would therefore be worth £7.8million to plot owners.

Dale Farm originally cost traveller John Sheridan £122,000, which he paid in cash in 2002. The site was then split up and sold to other travellers for a total of around £600,000.

The Echo revealed last Wednesday that former traveller homes at Hovefields Avenue, Wickford, which started life as cheap green belt plots, are currently on the market for £500,000.

Now we can exclusively reveal members of the Sheridan clan living illegally at Dale Farm are currently trying to turn farmland into legal homes at the Smithy Fen camp, Cottenham, Cambridgeshire.

Crays Hill travellers have managed to pay thousands of pounds in hard cash for land at Smithy Fen and other parts of the south east, including Hertfordshire and another part of Essex, Stapleford Tawney.

Huge profits will be possible if travellers can sell illegal plots bought for as little £2,000 once they gain planning permission.

The revelations have fired up locals who are convinced some clan members are opportunists, using gipsy status to transform cheap land into valuable homes - and not people of limited means who built illegally because they had no other choice.

Title deeds supplied to the Echo by campaigner Len Gridley, 47, from Oak Road, and Cottenham residents, plus planning appeal and electoral roll records, show some Crays Hill travellers have multiple land ownership.

Travellers argue the same names appear by "coincidence" as they are handed down several times through generations.

But the Echo has now unearthed conclusive proof that people from Dale Farm have been involved in illegal development at Smithy Fen and other sites.

1 comment:

paul said...

I would treat this with some caution, Chris. I have had many conversations with folk at Crays Hill - and not least with Fr John Glynn, the RC priest who ministers to that community and the Head of Crays Hill school - and I suspect this is more of the nasty rumour-mongering of Len Gridley, who is a bitter and narrow man.
Doubtless, some at Dale Farm are no paragons of virtue, but this is a check-your-facts and throw-not-the-first-stone case, I feel.

(BTW, packers here in a few minutes, move to Rawreth tomorrow, so not online until unpacked and BT sort me out! Go well!)

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