Category Archives: Posted

Young Palestinians and Arab Israelis Unite in Boxing Day Anti- Lockdown Rave at Muslim Holy Site

Techno party at Muslim holy site draws censure from Palestinian leadership

https://www.timesofisrael.com/techno-party-at-muslim-holy-site-draws-censure-from-palestinian-leadership/

Amid blame game, Palestinian Authority forms committee to probe who was behind party at Nabi Musa mosque, arrests prominent DJ; Hamas condemns rave as ‘despicable’

Palestinian and Arab Israeli rave attendees make merry at the Nabi Musa mosque in the West Bank on December 26, 2020 (Screenshot/Twitter)

Palestinian and Arab Israeli rave attendees make merry at the Nabi Musa mosque in the West Bank on December 26, 2020 (Screenshot/Twitter)

A Saturday night dance party by Palestinians at a West Bank Muslim holy site featuring alcohol and techno music has elicited condemnation from across the Palestinian political spectrum.

Videos from the Nabi Musa mosque between Jerusalem and Jericho showed a rave held at the scene, featuring young Palestinians and Arab Israelis dancing and drinking.

Prominent Palestinian disc jockey (DJ) Sama Abd al-Hadi led the festivities. Abd al-Hadi, originally from Ramallah, is considered a pioneering artist in the budding Palestinian electronic music scene, as well as one of the first female DJs in an overwhelmingly male-dominated field.

Abd al-Hadi was arrested Sunday night by Palestinian Authority police, the Kan public broadcaster reported, citing Palestinian sources.

The festivities appeared to have alcohol and men and women dancing together at the Muslim holy site. Most forms of Islam forbid drinking alcohol, and mixed dancing is also controversial in many parts of conservative Palestinian society.

A number of other Palestinians, apparently angered by what they considered to be the desecration of the site, arrived and confronted them. The partygoers told the newcomers that they had received permission from the Palestinian Authority Tourism Ministry in Ramallah to hold the event.

“Whisky! Alcohol! Women! Tourism Ministry, this isn’t religious morals. In fact, these aren’t morals,” one of the angry demonstrators said as he videotaped the site with his phone.

The Nabi Musa mosque — named after Moses, who many Jews, Christians and Muslims all revere as a prophet of God — is a prominent West Bank pilgrimage site. Each year in spring, Palestinian Muslims travel by foot to the mosque, which is situated between Jerusalem and Jericho.

Most of the revelers on Saturday night were either Arab Israelis or Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, and the matter is currently being processed by the Israel Police. A spokesperson for the police’s West Bank Division could not be reached for comment.

PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh has assembled an investigative committee to look into the incident, PA government spokesperson Ibrahim Milhem said.

“I feel disgust and rage about what happened at the Nabi Musa mosque… I do not know yet who is responsible for this sin, but whoever is will receive a punishment to fit the atrocity of what was committed. A mosque is a house of God; its sanctity is the sanctity of religion itself,” said Mahmoud al-Habbash, PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s advisor on religious affairs.

Nabi Musa lies largely in Area C, meaning that the Oslo Accords designates the area as under full Israeli security and civil control. Israeli security forces arrived at the scene during the night when the confrontation occurred.

“There were Israeli soldiers there, but the incident is being dealt with by the Israel Police and Palestinian institutions,” a spokesperson for the Israeli army said, without elaborating.

In the aftermath of the incident, Palestinian Authority ministries have engaged in a blame game in an attempt to avoid the wrath of the public from the perceived desecration of the holy site. The Tourism Ministry has sought to blame the Religious Affairs Ministry, which has denied any knowledge of plans to hold a rave at the site.

“I was surprised to hear the news that people had entered the mosque… the Religious Affairs Ministry was never asked for permission or consultation, nor did it ever issue a permit to hold a party in the mosque,” Religious Affairs Deputy Minister Hussam Abu al-Rabb told Ajyal Radio on Sunday.

The Nabi Musa mosque, in the Judean Desert, south of Jerusalem, on January 29, 2017.

On Sunday afternoon, several dozen Palestinians went to the site to pray. Videos posted on social gathered showed the worshippers hurling the remnants of last night’s party from the walls of the sanctuary before setting them ablaze.

Officials from Hamas, an Iran-backed terror group that rules the Gaza Strip and opposes the PA, quickly took advantage of the anger over the rave in the West Bank holy site to criticize their political rivals for allegedly allowing the event to take place. Palestinian Authority police, however, are rarely permitted by Israel to enforce their laws in Area C.

“We condemn the fact that this was done with the formal approval and under the protection of Mohammad Shtayyeh’s government,” said Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum, who called the rave “a despicable violation of the house of God.”

“This is a crime committed by riff-raff, at a time when the mosques are closed, and worshippers are pursued and arrested on the crime of prayer and violating the law and government orders… how can such a violation of the sanctity of mosques and of the law be permitted?” said Hamas West Bank legislator Nayef Rajoub.

Restoring The Record book: Less than 6 years left before footpaths are extinguished

Less than 6 years left before unrecorded and under-recorded paths are extinguished!
http://www.restoringtherecord.org.uk

  • Want to check historic rights on a local track but don’t know where to start?
  • Need to find extra evidence before a public inquiry?
  • Worried about your first visit to an archive office?
  • Experienced, but just want to check which Act authorised which activities?

Then you need Rights of Way: Restoring the Record, the research guide by Sarah Bucks and Phil Wadey.

For each of the most commonly used documentary evidence types, this book explains where the evidence can be found, why it is of value to proving or disproving highway status, and how to set out an application for a definitive map modification order.

There are notes on archive offices and helpful hints and time-saving tips on how to carry out the research.

It explains in detail how to initiate the legal process and, step by step, how to follow it through to an order being made.

It includes a long list of the Acts and Schedules which make up the legal background to current rights of way law.

This book is an essential guide for the novice, and an invaluable reference book for the more experienced.

It will appeal to user groups, local authority rights of way practitioners, land agents, land owners and property lawyers, as well as local historians and those interested in their part of the countryside.

Find out how to buy.

Rights of Way: Restoring the Record

http://www.restoringtherecord.org.uk/inbrief.htm
Authors Sarah Bucks and Phil Wadey

Publication date:  22 August 2017 (second edition)

Synopsis: Essential guide to over 20 sources of evidence valuable for proving or disproving the existence of public rights of way in England and Wales.

Description: For each of the most commonly used documentary evidence types, this book explains where the evidence can be found, why it is of value to proving or disproving highway status, and how to set out an application for a definitive map modification order.

There are notes on the national and county archive offices and helpful hints and time saving tips on how to carry out the research.

It explains in detail how to initiate the legal process and, step by step, how to follow it through to an order being made.

It includes a long list of the Acts and Schedules which make up the legal background to current rights of way law.

This book is an essential guide for the novice, and an invaluable reference book for the more experienced.

It will appeal to user groups, local authority rights of way practitioners, land agents, land owners and property lawyers, as well as local historians and those interested in their part of the countryside.

Design: Paul Tompsett, Free Range Book Design & Production Ltd
ISBN 978-0-9574036-0-4 (first edition)
ISBN 978-0-9574036-1-1 (second edition)
Format: Paperback
Size 246mm (height) x 189 mm (width).
Pages 336 (first edition), 416 (394+xxii) (second edition)
Cover price £30. (+ postage and packing) (First edition)
Cover price £32. (+ postage and packing) (Second edition)
Postal address: “Bucks & Wadey”, Bryants Farm, Dowlish Wake, Ilminster TA19 0NX – D-U-N-S221471370

Prince Charles sold his Duchy food brand, bought Waitrose distribution depot to cloak John Lewis stake – massive property empire

Revealed: Prince Charles’s secret property deals – including £38 million industrial carbuncle

see also below – The secrets of Prince Charles’ homes and properties

Exclusive: Duchy estate bought Milton Keynes supermarket depot despite his famously forthright views on preserving traditional architecture and countryside

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/revealed-prince-charles-s-secret-property-deals-including-ps38-million-industrial-carbuncle-8659596.html

Cahal Milmo @cahalmilmo – Saturday 15 June 2013

Revealed: Prince Charles’s secret property deals – including £38 million industrial carbuncle

The Prince bought the sprawling grey warehouse complex in Milton Keynes from an Anglo-Indian property fund, The Independent has established

The Independent employs over 100 journalists around the world to bring you news you can trust. To support truly independent journalism, please consider making a contribution or taking a subscription.

Prince Charles, renowned for his aversion to “monstrous carbuncle” buildings, has spent £38m on an industrial depot in Milton Keynes as part of a £102m series of confidential property deals, The Independent can reveal. The purchase of the vast supermarket warehouse through his estate – one of the single largest acquisitions by the Duchy of Cornwall in its 670-year history – was completed 18 months ago but has been kept from being made public.

A recent judicial ruling declared the Duchy to be a “public body” potentially liable to freedom of information rules.

But Clarence House has repeatedly refused to disclose any details of the expensive acquisition due to what the Prince’s officials said was the Duchy’s “private” status.

The Prince bought the sprawling grey warehouse complex in Milton Keynes from an Anglo-Indian property fund, The Independent has established. His tenants are Waitrose, who are using the depot as a lorry distribution hub. The deal offers a glimpse into the hard-nosed business ethos of the Duchy, established in the 14th century to provide an income for the Prince of Wales and his heirs, as well as the multiple layers of confidentiality and opaque procedure that govern the Prince’s commercial dealings.

Under an arrangement which is now being scrutinised by MPs, the Duchy is exempt from capital gains and corporation tax, saving it millions of pounds a year. Charles voluntarily pays income tax.

An investigation by The Independent has revealed that the Duchy, which is one of Britain’s largest private estates and owns more than 50,000 hectares of land, conducted property transactions worth at least £102m between 2009 and last December.

Any sale or purchase by the Prince worth more than £500,000 must be approved by the Treasury.

The Independent would like to keep you informed about offers, events and updates by email, please tick the box if you would like to be contacted

The Duchy’s holdings of land and property form the bulk of its assets, worth £693m, and stretch across 23 counties, including most of the Scilly Isles, Dartmoor Prison, the Oval cricket ground in central London, a Holiday Inn in Reading and the Prince’s private homes such as Highgrove. To this extensive list has now been added property title BM191066, otherwise known as the Waitrose distribution centre in Brinklow, Milton Keynes, whose new owners are listed by the Land Registry as “His Royal Highness Charles Philip Arthur George, Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall and Rothesay, Earl of Chester and Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles and Great Steward of Scotland”, and the Duchy. The sale price was £38,385,500.

Like all other significant Duchy transactions, the deal in November 2011 with Indian property fund Meghraj Properties had to be approved by the Lord Commissioners of the Treasury, an ancient post held by Government whips.

The depot, built in 1993 to withstand 20 million lorry journeys over its lifetime, sits awkwardly with the heir to the throne’s well-publicised love of traditional architecture along with his emphasis on rural life and environmental sustainability.

The purchase of the 396,000 sq ft warehouse is not the first link between Charles and the John Lewis Partnership supermarket. A previous deal between the Duchy and Waitrose in 2009 saw it take over the once-troubled Duchy Originals organic food brand, which now generates more than £1m a year for the prince’s charities.

When The Independent yesterday approached Clarence House with evidence of the warehouse purchase, it insisted there was no connection with the Duchy Originals tie-up, adding it was a “coincidence” that Waitrose was the tenant of the industrial complex.

The revelations come at an uncomfortable time for the Duchy, which is facing a private members’ bill in the House of Lords demanding that its structure be radically overhauled and its surplus income – £18.3m last year – be distributed to Cornwall rather than to the heir to throne. The bill’s sponsor, Labour peer Lord Berkeley, says the Duchy is a “feudal anachronism”.

The day-to-day management of the Duchy, including investment decisions on commercial property such as the Waitrose warehouse purchase, is carried out by a professional managerial team. But it is widely known that Prince Charles takes a close personal interest in the running of the estate. In many ways, the estate, which transfers its handsome surplus every year to the heir to the throne to form the bulk of his income, is a paragon of success. Despite the global downturn, the Prince has defied the prevailing economic winds to grow the Duchy’s income every year since at least 2008 – to £26.5m last year. His estate’s total value has risen by 15 per cent to £764m.

Charles voluntarily pays income tax on the income he receives from the Duchy (last year he paid £4.5m to the tax man from incoming funds of £18.3m). He uses the money to fund himself and the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry, a sizeable staff and his charitable activities.

But while the Duchy has been slickly managed, a growing number of critics say it has existed for too long in a constitutional no-man’s land where it discharges the duties of a public body, for example running the harbour authority on the Scilly Isles, and is subject to the financial scrutiny of Government whips, yet maintains it is a “private estate”. One benefit of this hybrid status is that the hereditary holding is exempt from both corporation and capital gains tax. The situation, which Clarence House insists is valid because the Duchy is “not a separate legal entity for tax purposes”, has led the powerful Commons public accounts committee, which is also investigating the tax affairs of Google and Starbucks, to demand answers from Treasury ministers as to whether the Prince’s exemptions are justified.

The Duchy is also fighting a separate attempt to force it to be more open about its workings. The Prince’s officials lost an important case before the Information Rights Tribunal, which after a three-year legal battle ruled that his estate was a “public authority” in performing its “primary function” to provide an income for the heir to the throne.

The landmark ruling could make the estate subject to the Freedom of Information Act. The Duchy is appealing. A spokeswoman said: “We do not agree that the Duchy performs functions of public administration. Hence we are appealing the ruling.”

Lord Berkeley, who lives in Cornwall, said there was a “conspiracy of silence” surrounding the status of the Duchy and it was time for a debate about its future: “The Duchy is a complete anachronism. It is feudal and I suspect many of those who work for it would say so if they felt able. It vacillates between being a private and a semi-public organisation according to its best advantage and yet there is no debate about how it should be best managed. It would seem to me that the Duchy would be a far better situation if it was turned into a public trust for the benefit of the people after which it is named.”

In a statement, a Duchy of Cornwall spokeswoman said: “The Duchy of Cornwall is a private estate, not a public body and is not funded by the taxpayer. The Prince of Wales chooses to use his private money from the estate to pay for his public duties, as well as those of the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.

“He also chooses to pay income tax on the income generated by The Duchy. The Duke of Cornwall manages the estate for present and future Dukes, and for the wider benefit of tenants, communities and the environment.”

————————————————————————————

 

The secrets of Prince Charles’ homes and properties

https://www.loveproperty.com/gallerylist/82843/the-secrets-of-prince-charles-homes-and-properties

 

PM Johnson urged to extend Right-to-Roam

Johnson urged to extend public’s right to roam over English countryside
Letter signed by 100 people including Stephen Fry and Ali Smith points out freedom to roam only extends to 8% of country

by Matthew Taylor, The Guardian
Mon 30 Nov 2020
Ref: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2020/nov/30/johnson-urged-to-extend-publics-right-to-roam-over-english-countryside

More than 100 authors, musicians, actors and artists have written to Boris Johnson urging him to extend the public’s right to roam over the English countryside.

The letter, signed by leading figures from Stephen Fry to Jarvis Cocker, Sir Mark Rylance to Ali Smith, calls on the prime minister to give people greater access to nature to improve the public’s physical and mental health.

“In the books we write, the songs we sing, the art that we make, we celebrate the essential connection that we feel with nature,” the letter states. “Our love for nature resonates with our millions of fans and followers, but in England, it is actively discouraged by the law. This is not only unfair; it is also untenable.”

The authors point out that in England the public has “freedom to roam” over only 8% of the country, while “only 3% of rivers in England and Wales are legally accessible to kayakers, paddle-boarders and wild swimmers”.

They are calling on Johnson to go further by extending right to roam to cover woodlands, rivers and green belt land.

“Lockdown has demonstrated how vital it is for us to have access to green outdoor space, both for our physical and our mental health,” the signatories write. “There is now a body of scientific evidence showing just how essential nature is for our wellbeing.”

The intervention comes on the 20th anniversary of the Countryside and Rights of Way (CRoW) Act, which created a partial right to roam in England and Wales. The letter was organised by the right to roam campaign, set up earlier this year by the authors Nick Hayes and Guy Shrubsole.

Shrubsole said: “Extending right to roam would be a bold and far-reaching act by this government, and its effects would resonate for generations to come. Now, more than ever, the time is ripe to give people the freedom to reconnect with nature, for the sake of public health.”

‘Biggest farming shake-up in 50 years’

£1.6bn subsidies for owning land in England to end, with funds going to improve nature

by Damian Carrington, Environment editor, The Guardian
Mon 30 Nov 2020
Ref: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/nov/30/environment-to-benefit-from-biggest-farming-shake-up-in-50-years

Wildlife, nature and the climate will benefit from the biggest shake-up in farming policy in England for 50 years, according to government plans.

The £1.6bn subsidy farmers receive every year for simply owning land will be phased out by 2028, with the funds used instead to pay them to restore wild habitats, create new woodlands, boost soils and cut pesticide use.

The wealthiest landowners – those receiving annual payments over £150,000 a year – will face the sharpest cuts, starting with 25% in 2021. Those receiving under £30,000 will see a 5% cut next year.

Some of the biggest recipients of the existing scheme have been the Duke of Westminster, the inventor Sir James Dyson, racehorse owner Prince Khalid bin Abdullah al Saud and the Queen.

Farmers will also get grants to improve productivity and animal welfare, including new robotic equipment. The goal of the plan is that farmers will – within seven years – be producing healthy and profitable food in a sustainable way and without subsidies.

The environment secretary, George Eustice, acknowledged the damage done to the environment by industrial farming since the 1960s and said the new plans would deliver for nature and help fight the climate crisis. Farming occupies 70% of England, is the biggest driver of biodiversity loss and produces significant greenhouse gas emissions and water pollution.

The radical changes in agricultural policy are possible due to the UK leaving the EU, whose common agricultural policy is widely regarded as a disaster for nature and even critics of Brexit see the changes as positive.

Farming and environment groups largely welcomed the plans but said more detail was urgently required. Brexit is looming at the end of December and uncertainties remain over food tariffs and trade deals. Many groups are also concerned about the potential import of food produced to lower animal welfare and environmental standards.

“[This is] the biggest change in agricultural policy in half a century,” said Eustice. “It makes no sense to subsidise land ownership and tenure where the largest subsidy payments often go to the wealthiest landowners.

“Over the last century, much of our wildlife-rich habitat has been lost, and many species are in long-term decline.

“I know many farmers feel this loss keenly and are taking measures to reverse this decline. But we cannot deny that the intensification of agriculture since the 1960s has taken its toll. Our plans for future farming must [also] tackle climate change – one of the most urgent challenges facing the world.”

The total of £2.4bn a year currently paid to farmers will remain the same until 2025, as promised in the Conservative manifesto. Currently, two-thirds of this is paid solely for owning land, but the proportion will fall to one-third by 2025 and zero by 2028. Funds for environmental action will rise from a quarter of the total to more than half by 2025, with the remaining funds used to increase productivity.

The new green payments will be trialled with 5,000 farmers before a full launch in 2024. But the level of payments for work such as natural flood defences and restoring peatlands and saltmarshes has not yet been set. Nor has the likely cut in carbon emissions been quantified.

The president of the National Farmers’ Union, Minette Batters, said: “Farming is changing and we look forward to working with ministers and officials to co-create the new schemes.”

But she added: “Expecting farmers to run viable, high-cost farm businesses, continue to produce food and increase their environmental delivery, while phasing out existing support and without a complete replacement scheme for almost three years is high risk and a very big ask.”

The cuts are expected to reduce the income of livestock farmers, for example, by 60% to 80% by 2024, Batters said.

Kate Norgrove, of the WWF, said: “Our farmers have the potential to be frontline heroes in the climate and nature emergency, and this roadmap starts us on the right path. It must see increased investment in nature as a way to tackle climate change.”

Tom Lancaster, principal policy officer for agriculture at the RSPB, said: “This is a make or break moment for the government’s farming reforms, which are so important to both the future of farming and recovery of nature in England. [This plan] provides some welcome clarity, but faster progress is now needed over the coming months.”

But Craig Bennett, CEO of the Wildlife Trusts, said: “We are deeply worried that the pilot [environment] schemes simply cannot deliver the promise that nature will be in a better state. Four years on from the EU referendum, we still lack the detail and clarity on how farm funding will benefit the public.”

Other measures in the government plan include funding improvements in how farmers manage animal manure – slurry is a major polluter of both water and air – and a scheme where farmers seeking to leave the sector can cash out all the subsidies payments they are due up to 2028 in 2022, part of efforts to help new farmers enter the sector.

The government said it would be cutting “red tape” for farmers, with warning letters replacing automatic fines for minor issues and more targeted – though not fewer – inspections.

In July, the government said rules about growing diverse crops, fallow land and hedges would be abolished in 2021, claiming they had little environmental benefit. Farming policy is a devolved matter and other UK nations have yet to bring forward firm new plans.

My Home Is A Shed: Cornwall author, songwriter and housing campaigner Catrina Davies

Cornwall’s housing crisis laid bare by woman who lives in a shed

Catrina Davies lives an alternative lifestyle because she feels there’s no alternative – By Jacqui Merrington 07 JUL 2019

https://www.cornwalllive.com/news/cornwall-news/cornwalls-housing-crisis-laid-bare-3065726

Catrina Davies has spent the past six years living in a shed in west Cornwall.
Desperate to return to the place where she grew up but unable to afford a place of her own, she moved into an old shed that was once her dad’s office.
The ramshackle corrugated iron building was full of holes, rats and spiders, but she moved in, just to be back home. She thought it was a temporary solution.
Six years later she’s still there, not because she is desperate for an ‘alternative’ lifestyle – more that she feels there is no alternative. The housing crisis has left her with nothing but a shed for a home.
Catrina, 40, said: “I was living in a shared house in Bristol and I kind of ran away back to the shed which used to be my dad’s office in the 90s. I camped in it. It was supposed to be temporary but then I realised there was very little option for me.
“I really wanted to be here because it feels like home. I am lucky because I had access to this shed.”
An author and musician, Catrina works cleaning and gardening for people around west Cornwall, earning enough money to live, make music and write from her tiny corrugated home, surrounded by books.
She feels that while the housing crisis is a global problem, caused by capitalism and consumerism, it’s a particular issue in Cornwall where second homes price local people out of the market.
“Cornwall is very interesting because it has got this dual economy, this veneer of wealth and yet the actual economy of Cornwall is very deprived.
“For a lot of people growing up here it is hard to leave because you do fall in love with the landscape.
“Thirty years ago you could buy a small flat in Cornwall for £20,000 but now it would cost £200,000 and wages have not changed very much at all. I’m paid a bit more but nowhere near enough.
“It is beginning to polarise people because the life you can expect to live is very different depending on whether you bought a house 20 years ago or you didn’t.”
Over three quarters of neighbourhoods in Cornwall are more deprived than the national average, according to recent statistics. The county is actually among the 50 poorest regions in the whole of Europe.
Catrina says housing has become a commodity – hence the rise in second home ownership in Cornwall – and she believes the same drive to own homes and second homes is contributing to the global crisis around climate change too.
She has just written a book, Homesick: Why I Live In A Shed, which explores her own journey to Cornwall, her struggle to make it as a musician and writer and the alternative lifestyle she’s created here.
In it, she sets her own story within the context of all those struggling to afford a home – local families living in tents every summer to rent out their homes to tourists to help them pay the mortgage or teachers leaving Cornwall because they can’t afford a home.
“I wanted to write something that is not about a utilitarian view of the housing crisis – of people in boxes – but that explored the human side of housing, which is about a relationship with a place and the things that housing offer that is not practical, but emotional. It is about having shelter and autonomy and security.”
While the shed gives Catrina somewhere to live in the place she calls home, it’s a precarious lifestyle and the uncertainty over her future in her tiny space has been a “huge source of anxiety” for her.
She has applied for a lawful development certificate from Cornwall Council to enable her to continue living there in the future.
“Mustering up the courage to do this application took years,” she said. “When I realised the book was going to be published it dawned on me that I was going to be drawing attention to myself and I had to get that application in. I hope very much that it will be OK.”

Cassington village Allotments in Oxfordshire under threat by Blenheim Estates

Dear TLIO,

I was very interested to read that your Organization campaigns peacefully for everyone to have access to the land, its resources, and the decision-making processes affecting them.

My wife and I have been sustainably growing our own food at the Cassington village Allotments in Oxfordshire. The allotments have been in use by local people for over 100 years. They are fully occupied by over 30 plot holders and there is a waiting list.

The site is also a haven for wildlife with its ponds, meadows and many trees. Including some rare and protected species.

Now Blenheim Estates wants to demolish and cover the allotments in concrete to build rental homes. They already own all the land around the village, mostly monoculture farming fields, and 12,000 acres in total.

If you are interested in helping us there is a petition created by our Allotment Association to be sent to the local council asking for our site to be preserved and building permission declined.
Feel free to share it with those you think would want to support us.

https://www.change.org/p/save-cassington-allotments

More information can be found at:
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/gardeners-dig-in-to-battle-blenheim-estate-homes-m6gtf6zhg

You are welcome to visit our Allotments and see for your self the beautiful gardens and wildlife in them.

Please contact me on s.g.serra@hotmail.com

Best regards
Samuel Serra

Environmental Justice or Eugenics? Prince Charles Says We Must Reduce World Population By Three Quarters

Prince Charles warns that we will need ‘four planets like earth to survive’ as we just ‘take and take’ and urges companies to focus on the ‘green recovery’ following coronavirus

He stated that at current rate we would need ‘four planets like earth to survive’ https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-8757107/Prince-Charles-warns-need-four-planets-like-earth-survive.html

However: We produce enough food to feed 10 billion people. So why does hunger still exist?

Jeremy Erdman – Feb 2, 2018 · 4 min read

https://medium.com/@jeremyerdman/we-produce-enough-food-to-feed-10-billion-people-so-why-does-hunger-still-exist-8086d2657539

Today, 795 million people are hungry. Another 2 billion are expected to join them by 2050.

However, global food production is incredibly efficient. The world’s farmers produce enough food to feed 1.5x the global population. That’s enough to feed 10 billion (we are at 7.6 billion currently).
Despite this excess, hunger still exists.

How is that possible?

Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

Our inability to feed the entirety of the world’s population is mostly due to food waste. Globally, 30–40% of all food is wasted.
In less developed countries, this waste is due to lack of infrastructure and knowledge to keep food fresh. For example, India loses 30–40% of its produce because retail and wholesalers lack cold storage.

In more developed countries, the lower relative cost of food reduces the incentive to waste. And as portion size grows, more and more food gets thrown out and wasted.

Our food distribution system is inefficient. But this inefficiency won’t drive 2 billion more people into hunger by 2050.
Climate change will.

Change in potential average yields for corn, potatoes, rice, and wheat in 2050

Climate change will reshape the world’s agricultural landscape. Colder climates will become more favorable to agriculture, but many current agriculture powerhouses will see significant declines in yield.

The most notably likely to be impacted:

  • The US’s Midwest region will see at least a 20% decline in corn production.
  • Brazil will see a 16% drop in corn production.
  • Indonesia will see a 20% drop in corn production

To safeguard against these changes, farmers will need to both modernise agricultural methods and diversify their fields.
In terms of outcomes, modernising methods falls into the same bucket as updating food infrastructure. Both require investment and knowledge to improve yield and food availability.

But diversifying fields? That incorporates more crops and methods into agricultural processes. And, ultimately, it can reinvent agriculture itself.

Diversifying and Decentralizing Agriculture

Diversifying our crops is paramount to our health. According to the UN, 75% of crop biodiversity has disappeared since the 1900s. Agricultural biodiversity contributes to more nutritious diets and builds more resilient and sustainable farming systems.
However, another necessary component to building resilient and sustainable farming systems is to reduce risk. Climate change-induced impacts will rock many agricultural hubs. To minimize these impacts on food availability, we need to decentralize its production.
And urban agriculture is a great place to start.

Urban agriculture incorporates producing healthy food into an environment long detached from its food production.
Let’s use City Fruit, a nonprofit in Seattle, as an example.

Seattle has an abundance of fruit trees throughout its neighborhoods and parks. Every year, much of this fruit falls, rots, and wastes. City Fruit saw a need and began diverting this fruit to communities lacking healthy food access.

In just a few years, City Fruit began harvesting over 55,000 pounds of fruit. This amount of fruit not just feeds thousands, but nourishes them as well. It makes use of local resources, and as a result, improves community resiliency.

To end hunger, we need to replicate these types of stories across the globe. We need to identify communities’ abundant local resources, strengthen them, and utilize them to improve food access to those who need it most.

Yes, it will be challenging.

And yes, it will require innovation.

But I’m excited to see what the world creates.

Gender Identity Politics: Land Justice Network Trans Activists Ban People Who Don’t Share Their Views

Radical Intransigence

Gender Identity Politics: Trans Activists Exclude Land Justice Network Campaigners Who Don’t Share Their Views
https://thelandmagazine.org.uk/articles/radical-intransigence-0
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Mike Hannis finds a much-needed debate being shut down.

Last summer we published a short report on the Land Camp organised by the Land Justice Network (Issue 25, p51). We took a humorous angle, but were clearly supportive of LJN, their anti-grousemoor campaign, and the broader objectives of the camp. Raising awareness of how inequitable ownership patterns make unsustainable land uses more likely is after all what The Land is all about.

It may seem odd to go back to that event now, but a separate story emerged from it which also needs to be covered. For many, this story and its ramifications entirely overshadowed the intended message of the camp. This was particularly true for one person present – a woman whose activist credentials might be said to be second to none, yet who was told in no uncertain terms that she was not welcome.

So why would young activists shun a woman who has been fighting hard for causes they espouse since before many of them were born? Answering this question requires some background. The twisting tale starts thirty years ago.

FIGHTING BURGER POWER

As a result of handing out campaign leaflets outside McDonalds, in 1990 a young woman called Helen Steel was one of five members of London Greenpeace sued for libel by the burger giant. Three apologised, but Steel and her eventual co-defendant Dave Morris chose to fight in court. The resulting ‘McLibel’ case remains the longest in English legal history, as well as perhaps its most extreme ‘David versus Goliath’ struggle.

The initial High Court trial alone involved 40,000 pages of evidence and 130 witnesses. Denied legal aid, Steel and Morris represented themselves, receiving occasional free legal assistance along the way from (among many others) Keir Starmer. McDonalds’ legal bills were estimated at over £10 million. In 1997, a High Court judge found that Steel and Morris had indeed libelled McDonald’s, and ordered them to pay the corporation £60,000. However in a PR disaster for McDonald’s, he also found that several of the claims in the leaflet were true, not least those about misleading advertising and the exploitation of children. In 1999 the Court of Appeal reduced this award to £40,000, finding that several further claims (about workers’ pay and conditions, and likely health effects of eating McDonald’s burgers) were also true.

Steel and Morris then appealed to the House of Lords, arguing that they had been unfairly denied legal aid. The Lords refused to accept the case, so they moved on to Europe. In 2005 the European Court of Human Rights finally ordered the UK government to pay Steel and Morris £57,000 in compensation, ruling that the original case had breached Article 6 (right to a fair trial) and Article 10 (right to freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights. English law, said the Court, had failed to protect the public right to criticise the activities of corporations.

TOO CLOSE TO HOME

Ironically, Steel had no part in writing the original leaflet. There was little discussion in court of who had done so, as the alleged libel consisted in its distribution. It had apparently been co-written by several members of London Greenpeace.

Many years later in 2011, it finally emerged that one of the authors of the notorious leaflet had been an undercover policeman, whose real name was Bob Lambert. Lambert was in fact one of two Special Branch spies in London Greenpeace during that period. Though married throughout with two children, he had in 1985 already fathered a child with another female activist while undercover before orchestrating the breakdown of their relationship as an exit strategy at the end of his deployment.

The other police infiltrator, John Dines, began a deceptive intimate relationship with Steel shortly before McDonalds served their libel writs. The relationship lasted almost two years and they rented a flat together, meaning Dines was able to access confidential legal advice Steel was receiving. Concerned after his abrupt departure she spent years trying to trace him, finding inconsistencies and discovering that he had been using the identity of a dead child, but confirming the full shocking truth only in 2010 (and securing official confirmation only in 2016). Alongside seven other women also tricked into relationships with undercover police officers, she then took the Metropolitan Police to court, in another marathon unfunded case. In November 2015 the women won an unprecedented public apology from the police, acknowledging responsibility for serious violations of the women’s human rights.

Steel remains a key figure in ongoing campaigns seeking justice for women similarly deceived, and broader disclosure of the names and activities of the many police officers known to have infiltrated leftwing, anti-war, environmentalist and animal rights groups since 1968. Much of this activity centres on battling for transparency and fairness in the conduct of the Public Enquiry into Undercover Policing, which was grudgingly set up by Theresa May in 2015 but is not expecting to hold its first evidence hearing until summer 2020.

EQUAL RIGHTS

Steel is also involved in a number of other campaigns, one of which is the Land Justice Network. She was a founder member of the LJN action group, and also part of the wider LJN network after attending the founding ‘Land for What?’ conference in November 2016. Another focuses on the potential erosion of women’s sex-based rights by proposed changes to the 2004 Gender Recognition Act, and relatedly, protection of the right to express opinions on this issue. Curiously, it was her involvement in this latter campaign that some considered incompatible with her presence at the Land Camp.

The 2010 Equality Act (EA) lists nine ‘protected characteristics’ on the basis of which it is illegal to discriminate against people, or to harass or victimise them. One is sex: men and women must be treated as social equals. Importantly though, being treated as equals does not always mean being treated identically. The Act contains a number of exemptions and exceptions – contexts in which discrimination on grounds of sex is legitimate, usually because it is in fact required in order to ensure that one sex (usually women) are not unfairly disadvantaged or endangered.

Many instances of such legally permissible discrimination involve reserving certain spaces, services and roles only for women. This allows for instance the continued existence of women’s prisons, refuges, and toilets, and the exclusion of men from competing in women’s sport. It also ensures that certain jobs are reserved for women, and that political parties can run all-women candidate shortlists in order to address existing imbalances.

‘Man’ and ‘woman’ are understood in the Act as categories to which people belong on the basis of sex – that is, according to whether their physical bodies are male or female. So far, so apparently simple … but this is where the complexity begins.

SELF-IDENTIFICATION

‘Gender reassignment’ is also a protected characteristic under the EA, meaning that it is illegal to discriminate against a person because they are undergoing (or even ‘proposing to undergo’) a process of gender reassignment. This does not mean that, for instance, a man in the process of becoming a trans woman must be treated for the purposes of the Act as a woman. He remains legally a man, but one with the protected characteristic of gender reassignment.

If however such a person obtains a Gender Reassignment Certificate (GRC) under the 2004 Gender Recognition Act (GRA), then they do legally become their newly ‘acquired gender’. Confusingly, their GRC entitles them to a new birth certificate, on which they are shown as a new sex – in this case, female. (Birth certificates record sex, not gender.) This change is officially termed a ‘legal fiction’, because medically speaking it is not possible to actually change the sex of a human body, even with surgery and hormones. Contrary to widespread assumption, most trans people do not elect to undergo surgery, and this is not required to obtain a GRC.

A trans woman with a GRC and a new birth certificate may therefore become entitled to most of the legal protections afforded to biological women by the EA, including access to many (though not all) spaces and occupations reserved for women. For this and other reasons, a GRC becomes a desirable thing to have as a trans person. But trans rights campaigners say the process of getting a GRC is too onerous, because it requires a long wait and a specific medical diagnosis of ‘gender dysphoria’. In their view a person describing themselves as having been ‘born in the wrong body’ should be believed, rather than being told they are suffering from a psychological disorder. They therefore argue that applying for a GRC should just involve a simple process of ‘self-ID’, through which the applicant formally identifies as their new gender and thereby enshrines this as their new status for all legal and official purposes.

Following determined lobbying, the Government was in 2018 persuaded to open a consultation on reform of the GRA, including the possibility of moving to a system of self-ID. This was highly controversial, and matters escalated rapidly into acrimonious disagreement between trans rights campaigners and those who argued that self-ID effectively meant redefining the word woman, and would create or exacerbate threats to women’s rights to single sex services, facilities and roles.

This latter group – which includes Helen Steel – seek to preserve as far as possible the principle that the test for admission to reserved roles or spaces should be a person’s physical sex, not their ‘gender identity’. They argue that under a self-ID system there would be no defined criteria to determine whether a person is a woman, and hence no effective way of preserving women-only spaces (including prisons and refuges), with serious consequences for safety and privacy in such spaces. Concerns also arise regarding political and workplace representation for women, and fairness and safety in women’s sport.

INNATE GENDER?

Due in part to current political turmoil, self-ID appears to have been kicked into the long grass for now. But the highly-charged debate sparked by the GRA consultation continues.At one level the disagreement centres on whether there can be such a thing as an innate gender identity that human beings are born with, independent of both physiology and social conditioning. If there can, then it could make sense to speak of a person’s ‘true’ gender identity not matching their ‘gender assigned at birth’. A person could literally be a woman trapped in a male body, or vice versa. It would then be plausible to claim that since only I have access to my inner reality, only I can say what my true gender identity is, and that I should therefore be able to ‘self-identify’ as whatever gender I consider myself to be.

This claim that gender is innate has led to the phrase “trans women are women” being held up as an article of faith, denial of which supposedly reveals one to be ‘phobic’ about trans people, or to ‘deny their right to exist’. It is not enough to accept trans women’s right to live and self-describe as women. In order not to be accused of transphobia, everyone must sign up to the idea that trans women literally are women, and that being a woman (or a man) is a matter of gender identity, not a matter of biology. Campaigners publicly questioning this idea (some of whom adopted the dictionary definition ‘woman = adult human female’ as a slogan) are accused of bigotry.

The ‘gender-critical’ position taken by (often older) feminists like Steel is that far from being innate, ‘gender’ is no more – and no less – than a set of pernicious social constructs dictating how female and male people ‘should’ behave, which serve to impose a hierarchy of male domination and female submission. To accurately describe a person as a woman (or a man) is to identify them by sex, not by gender. Nobody has an innate gender identity, because gender is something imposed on them by society after birth. Sex on the other hand is a matter of biology, and it is not possible to change the biological maleness or femaleness of a human body.

Gender-critical (GC) feminists argue that women are structurally and personally oppressed by men, and by male-centred structures of power, not because of their felt ‘gender identity’, but because of their sex – because of physical facts about their (child-bearing and statistically smaller) female bodies. It is a person’s sex that determines which set of socially-determined gender roles gets imposed on them.

On this view, the idea that gender is innate and independent of sex reinforces sexist stereotypes of how men and women should behave, rather than challenging them. For instance, well-meaning and supposedly emancipatory activities encouraging children to locate their own gender identity somewhere along a ‘Barbie to GI Joe’ spectrum are in fact likely to strengthen the damaging idea that ‘real women’ are like Barbie and ‘real men’ are like GI Joe.

GC thinkers argue that the idea of innate gender is particularly bad for ‘gender-nonconforming’ people, of all kinds and all ages, who should be allowed to live (and love) however they please, rejecting gender roles imposed on them. This includes not being pressured or encouraged to change their bodies to align with their so-called gender identities. It also includes not being accused of bigotry for preferring partners of a specific sex (as opposed to gender). One key group of gender-nonconforming people is of course same-sex-attracted people, and significant controversies have arisen over recent reorientations of some gay and lesbian rights organisations and events to focus on trans issues.

Sexual orientation is a protected characteristic in the EA – it’s illegal to discriminate against someone for being gay or lesbian, just as it is to discriminate against them for being female, or indeed for being in the process of gender reassignment. But ‘gender identity’ is not a protected characteristic. Some trans rights activists argue that it should be, and organisations including Stonewall have lobbied for the EA to be revised along these lines. Stonewall lost this fight, but nonetheless tell organisations seeking their advice that “going above and beyond the law, the most inclusive services consider gender identity to be a protected characteristic.”

NO DEBATE

Aggravated by the immediacy and virulence of social media, the situation has become extremely volatile. Activists and campaigners who have in some cases been allies for decades find themselves on opposing sides of this highly polarised ‘debate’.

Unfortunately though, actual debate on the issue is rare. A strongly-policed orthodoxy has arisen under which GC arguments are portrayed as ‘transphobic’, and any expression of them as ‘hate speech’. Trans rights activists denounce GC writers as ‘bigots’, and refuse to discuss the issues they raise. Even iconic feminists such as Linda Bellos and Germaine Greer are denounced and ‘de-platformed’.

Meetings of women to discuss potential erosion of their legal rights have been aggressively picketed. Public figures have been intimidated into keeping silent on the issue. Co-ordinated campaigns are mounted to remove people expressing GC views (usually women and often lesbians) from their jobs, especially in universities but also in businesses, charities, and NGOs. Several likely test cases are working their way through the legal system. Within ‘progressive’ political parties, widespread dissent over equalities policies and over who should be eligible for posts representing women is suppressed, remaining largely unseen from the outside.

There has also been tension and division at the more radical end of the activist community. An early example in the US was the implosion of the previously flourishing Deep Green Resistance movement (see The Land 15, p54 and 16, p52) over an argument about whether a trans woman should be allowed into a women-only space. Veteran radical author Derrick Jensen, a founder of DGR, is still vilified and now struggles to get his work published.

In the UK, similar rifts emerged after an incident at the London Anarchist Bookfair in 2017, when Helen Steel sought to defend the right of two other women to distribute leaflets critical of the proposed GRA reforms. In the words of the event organisers:

“For expressing this view, she was mobbed by a crowd of people some of whom, had we not stepped in, appeared bent on physically attacking her. We and other stall holders stepped in to prevent this from happening.”

To the disappointment of many, the ensuing controversy led to the cancellation of the 2018 London Bookfair. It also led to a much higher profile on the issue for Steel, who began speaking out more publicly on GRA reform and associated issues. In so doing she has attracted constant attention from trans rights activists, who have even attempted to ‘de-platform’ her from events where she was booked to speak about her experiences of abusive undercover policing.

In the absence of a London event, a large 2018 Anarchist Bookfair was held in Manchester. This time, in Steel’s own words, she was

“physically carried out while trying to persuade them that it was incompatible with anarchist principles to exclude women from participating in discussions about what the word woman means and whether males should be allowed into women-only spaces.”

ON THE MOOR – AND AFTER

This then is the background to what happened at the Land Camp in May 2019. Despite her having been at the camp from the beginning, organisers told Steel only during a protest walk across the moors that they wanted her to leave immediately, as her presence posed “a risk to the safety of trans people”. She challenged this assertion, stating:

“I have now been physically threatened and assaulted by trans activists several times, and yet I have not hit back or threatened anyone – if anyone’s safety is at risk, it’s mine.”

However, some of the organisers told her that she was no longer welcome, and that they were not willing to discuss this further. In a subsequent interview she observed that

“I hadn’t even said anything relating to trans issues at the point I was told to leave, but when I pointed this out I was told that they had made a prior decision that I wasn’t welcome at the camp because of things I had posted on social media.”

What then ensued on social media and elsewhere was by now all too familiar. The small UK land activist community was suddenly riven by bitter disputes about transgender politics. An open letter supporting Steel was swiftly issued. Alongside over 400 other people, three editors of The Land signed this statement, and continue to endorse it. Here is an extract:

“This was the third time that Helen has been threatened or evicted from political events in this way and others have received similar treatment. The idea that questioning gender identity theory amounts to bigotry and ‘hatred’ of trans people is justifying the exclusion of people from the movement. The effect of this is that many are afraid to express an opinion on the issue or even to ask any questions about it, and the end result is that most do not understand different perspectives on the issue. Progressive movements are supposed to work on the basis of mass participation; it is only through the honest exchange of views and varied life experiences that we are able to understand the implications of power dynamics, policies and laws and able to ensure that everyone’s rights are protected. It is out of order to single out one individual to be excommunicated, hounded, physically assaulted and humiliated for views which many other progressive people in our radical networks share.”

Organisers of the camp appeared unrepentant. A short statement headed ‘Landcamp safer spaces failure’ was eventually posted on the LJN website saying:

“Landcamp organisers are an autonomous working group that do not speak for the wider Land Justice Network as a whole or any other working group. Landcamp organisers acknowledge that our safer spaces policy was not clear enough in process or content to be fit for purpose. We regret the confusion and agitation caused to all as a result of this. Landcamp organisers look forward to feeding into a wider Land Justice Network safer spaces process which we hope will make clear that people involved in actively campaigning against trans rights will not be welcome at our future events.”

LIKE PIE?

Far from accepting the possibility that any mistake might have been made, this statement clearly implies that the only ‘failure’ was to have allowed Steel onto the protest site in the first place. This perfectly illustrates the difficulty of attempting to debate these issues with those determined to shut down all dissenting opinion. Efforts to elicit further public comment for this article, from LJN or from key individuals involved, were unsuccessful.

As in other contexts where this issue is dividing people, open debate is certainly needed, because the present situation is not only polarised but also confused. It is for instance sometimes claimed that anyone expressing a gender critical perspective is buying into a narrative promoted by rightwing and religious interest groups who believe in upholding rigid traditional gender roles, and see transgender people as a threat to these. Such conservative interest groups certainly exist, and are indeed often prejudiced against transgender people (among others). But gender critical feminists, most of whom are solidly on the left, do not want to uphold traditional gender roles – broadly speaking, they want precisely the opposite. They are not prejudiced against transgender people, and do not seek to ‘deny their existence’.

A simplistic meme often mobilised in these discussions claims that “more rights for one group doesn’t mean less for someone else – it’s not like pie”. This sounds good, but is often entirely mistaken. In real life there are many instances in which giving additional rights and entitlements to one group does entail reducing those previously given to another. The debate currently being shut down focuses on the extent to which this applies in cases like women’s sport, women’s political representation, and protected single-sex spaces. It seems clear that the pie is finite: posts, medals or spaces taken by male-bodied trans women tend to be taken from biological women. This raises legitimate concerns which deserve to be properly heard, not suppressed.

WOMEN AND LAND

Finally it’s worth remembering that land politics is an area in which inequality between men and women is extremely prevalent. Worldwide, women do the bulk of land-based work, but own less than 20 percent of privately-owned land – and as the world’s remaining commons pass into private ownership, the hands they pass into are disproportionately male.

In many countries laws and customs on inheritance of land still discriminate against women. Such discrimination can often be a matter of life and death, and affects many of the world’s most disadvantaged people. But a version of it operates even within the British aristocracy, which as we now know still owns over a third of England. Aristocratic titles and land estates traditionally follow the rule of primogeniture and pass from father to oldest son, preserving the power and prestige of dominant males. Helen Steel points out that although the principle of the Gender Recognition Act is that a person with a GRC legally becomes their aquired gender ‘for all purposes’, a specific exclusion was inserted to prevent older female offspring who obtain a GRC (making them legally male) from inheriting an aristocratic title and estate ahead of a younger brother. An Explanatory Note makes clear that

“The descent of any peerage or dignity or title of honour will take place as if a person recognised in the acquired gender were still of the birth gender. The same rule applies to any property that passes with it.”

This curious exclusion, says Steel, shows once more how current changes in the legal framework around sex and gender tend at every turn to preserve and extend male privilege while eroding women’s rights.

Women all over the world are discriminated against not because of their gender identity, but because of their sex. Excluding those who recognise this makes it less likely that this important dimension of global (and local) land politics will be properly considered.

Friends Families and Travellers Investigation: Police Don’t Want More Powers To Evict Traveller Encampments

Even the police don’t want more powers to evict Traveller camps – investigation reveals

https://www.travellerstimes.org.uk/news/2020/09/even-police-dont-want-more-powers-evict-traveller-camps-investigation-reveals

Police do not want more powers to evict unauthorised Traveller camps and instead want more legal sites built – an investigation by the charity Friends Families and Travellers (FFT) has revealed.

The national charity submitted freedom of information requests to all Police Forces and Police and Crime Commissioners in England and Wales, as well as the National Police Chief Council and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners to get their submissions to the Government’s 2019 consultation ‘Strengthening police powers to tackle unauthorised encampments’.

In the consultation the Government threatened to:

  • Make trespass a crime – resulting in prison, a fine or your vehicle being taken from you.
  • Make it a crime for you to stop alongside or on the road – they will be able to move you along.
  • Make it so police can act when there is two vehicles, instead of six. A car, a trailer and a van would count as three vehicles. A horse drawn wagon would also count as a vehicle, say lawyers.
  • Make it so police can force you to go to a transit site in another county.
  • Make it so you are banned from an area for one year instead of three months.

The FFT research shows that only one out of five bodies who responded with their submissions supported the Government proposals to criminalise unauthorised encampments and nearly all of police bodies called for more site provision. Less than one in five agreed with the Home Office proposals to give police power to seize vehicles of those on unauthorised encampments.

“The findings clearly demonstrate that only a small percentage of police respondents are in favour of criminalising trespass or strengthening of existing powers, stressing that this will be ineffective unless there is increased site provision,” say Friends Families and Travellers.

The full FFT report on their investigation can be seen here.

The consultation closed in March 2020 and the Government is expected to release their own results on the consultation later this autumn.

POLICE REPEAT CALLS FOR MORE SITES, REJECTING HOME OFFICE PROPOSALS TO CRIMINALISE TRESPASS

Key findings

  • Only 21.7% of police respondents agreed with the Home Office proposals to criminalise unauthorised encampments
  • 93.7% of police bodies called for site provision as the solution to unauthorised encampments.
  • Only 37.5% of police respondents agreed with the Home Office proposals to grant powers to direct families across local authority lines.
  • Only 18.7% of police respondents agreed with Home Office proposals to give police power to seize vehicles of those on unauthorised encampments.
  • Only 37.5% of police respondents agreed with the Home Office proposals to lower the number of vehicles needing to be involved in an unauthorised encampment before police powers can be exercised from 6 to 2 vehicles.
  • Only 43.7% of police respondents agreed with the Home Office proposals to increase the period of time in which those on encampments would be unable to return from 3 months to
    12 months.

There is no point in bringing in more laws which tell Travellers where they can’t go when you aren’t telling them where they can go
Abbie Kirkby, Advice and Policy Manager at Friends, Families and Travellers said:

“The hostile approach taken by this Government towards Gypsies and Travellers must stop. We have seen huge opposition to these proposals, opposition not only from the police but from across society in recognition of the implications for human rights and civil liberties. The Government have failed Gypsy and Traveller communities – there is no point in bringing in more laws which tell Travellers where they can’t go when you aren’t telling them where they can go.”

In their response to the consultation, the National Police Chiefs Council and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners said, “We believe that criminalising unauthorised encampments is not acceptable. Complete criminalisation of trespass would likely lead to legal action in terms of incompatibility with regard to the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Public Sector Equality Duty under the Equality Act 2010, most likely on the grounds of how could such an increase in powers be proportionate and reasonable when there are insufficient pitches and stopping places?”

The Travellers’ Times understands that Lawyers for Gypsies and Travellers are set to challenge in the High Court any new laws strengthening police powers to evict camps.

A Government spokesperson said:

“While the vast majority of traveller communities reside in authorised encampments, there have been long-standing concerns about the disproportionate impact of some unauthorised sites which cause significant distress to local communities.

“That is why the Home Office carried out a consultation seeking views on strengthening police powers to tackle these unauthorised encampments. A response will be made in due course.”

 

POLICE REPEAT CALLS FOR MORE SITES, REJECTING HOME OFFICE PROPOSALS TO CRIMINALISE TRESPASS

September 9, 2020 – Today, Friends, Families and Travellers (FFT) release the findings of an illuminating report which indicates only a small percentage of police bodies are in favour of the Home Office proposals to criminalise unauthorised encampments. The research found an overwhelming 93% of police bodies who submitted to the consultation and shared their response with FFT called for better site provision for Gypsies and Travellers as a solution to unauthorised encampments.

FFT submitted freedom of information (FOI) requests to all Police Forces and Police and Crime Commissioners in England and Wales, as well as the National Police Chief Council (NPCC) and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) to view the responses of police bodies to the Government’s 2019 consultation ‘Strengthening police powers to tackle unauthorised encampments’.

From the responses shared with FFT, only 21.7% of police bodies agreed with the Home Office proposals to criminalise unauthorised encampments; 93.7% of police bodies called for site provision as the solution to unauthorised encampments; and only 18.7% of respondents agreed with the Home Office proposals to give police power to seize vehicles of those on unauthorised encampments.

The findings clearly demonstrate that only a small percentage of police respondents are in favour of criminalising trespass or strengthening of existing powers, stressing that this will be ineffective unless there is increased site provision. The consultation closed in March 2020 and the Government is expected to release their own results on the consultation later this autumn.

Following the release of the report, Abbie Kirkby, Advice and Policy Manager at Friends, Families and Travellers said:

“The hostile approach taken by this Government towards Gypsies and Travellers must stop. We have seen huge opposition to these proposals, opposition not only from the police but from across society in recognition of the implications for human rights and civil liberties. The Government have failed Gypsy and Traveller communities – there is no point in bringing in more laws which tell Travellers where they can’t go when you aren’t telling them where they can go.”

Speaking about the personal impacts of the proposed powers, Martha Ostick shared:

“You never feel like you can get settled when you live on the road, it’s impossible to feel grounded and that impacts every part of your life, you are in the hands of the authorities and it doesn’t feel safe. This new legislation makes you feel like you’re not included in society, that you’re a criminal. We don’t need more police powers, we need negotiated stopping so you can plan your year, get work, get to school, be part of the same society as everyone else.”

Voicing concerns over additional police powers without more sites, Chloe said:

“I think the Government should be listening more to the police, the ones that do want to help the Traveller community. They are out there every day, and they see exactly what’s going on – the impacts police powers have on families. The police don’t need more powers. More powers will make life much harder for people who are homeless. If the government authorised more sites it would be a better solution to the problems. Gypsies and Travellers haven’t got any say now, if the police got more powers, if feels like there will be no hope.”

Speaking about the research findings, a spokesperson for the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Police Association (GRTPA) said:

“The GRTPA are absolutely opposed to the Government recommendations to criminalise trespass and the stronger police powers that have been drafted. This proposed legislation criminalises a traditional way of life for our community and will only seek to marginalise Gypsies and Travellers further. We believe the solution is, and has always been adequate site provision across the country, inclusive of transit sites and negotiated stopping. Gypsies and Travellers are recognised ethnic groups and our nomadic way of life is part of our culture, therefore the legislation would be in conflict with Human Rights and Equality legislation and would only further antagonise the awful bias and discrimination we suffer daily.”

Notes for Editor

About Friends, Families and Travellers (FFT)

Friends, Families and Travellers is a leading national charity that works on behalf of all Gypsies, Roma and Travellers regardless of ethnicity, culture or background.

Media Contact

Sami McLaren, Communications Officer

Tel: 07436 228910 Email: sami@gypsy-traveller.org

Relevant Resources

‘Police renew calls for more Gypsy and Traveller sites in opposition to the criminalisation of unauthorised encampments’. View report.