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Friday 30 September 2011

A Tale Of Two Farms

Most people, even in the north west, have not heard of Holme House Farm. Fewer yet know of its significance. But anyone with an opinion has heard of Dale Farm, and is well aware of what the name means. Both farms are connected by their falling foul of planning rules, and residents in both face the threat of eviction. Why only one of them appears on the news radar may become clear.

Holme House Farm has on its land fifteen “lodges” which have been converted from static caravans. They are home to around nineteen people. Those people, generally, cannot afford to rent elsewhere in the area, far less buy, for this is Kendal, a town in an area where many properties serve as second homes for those keen on the attractions of the Lake District.

Compare and contrast, as they say: Dale Farm in Essex, near Basildon, also has a number of static caravans and other homes which are there in violation of the planning laws. Unlike those in the north west, this is a community of travelling folk, most with family connections to the west of Ireland. Some locals resent the presence of travellers in the area.

No prizes for guessing which of the two farms features in the press: the Dale Farm residents have been the subject of an onslaught from the Daily Mail for some weeks now, with accusations that they have “lavish” homes back in Ireland (a half built shell is not “lavish”), or that they have “names on deeds, and of course Dicky Windbag has got in on the act.

The rest of the tabloid pack has been there in the vanguard with the Mail, but none of them has even managed a peep about Holme House. Why might that be? Well, there are less people involved in the Holme House Farm site than at Dale Farm, they aren’t living in such close proximity to their nearest neighbours, and they’re a long, long way from London, where the hacks are based.

But most of all, the people at Holme House Farm are just locals who can’t afford anywhere else in the area. And they aren’t travellers. Not that the Daily Mail and the rest of the tabs pull in the readers by trying to frighten them about travellers.

Perish the thought!

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