Basildon, Essex: Dale Farm Travellers Get 11th Hour Injunction To Halt Evictions

19 Sep

Irish Travelers, residents of the Dale Farm settlement, stand on a tower of scaffolding …

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Video: Clashes Expected Over Dale Farm Eviction 

Residents of the UK’s biggest illegal travellers’ camp have won a temporary injunction against the council.

Basildon Council have been prevented from clearing any structures at the site ahead of a High Court hearing on Friday.

Scores of people at Dale Farm in Basildon, Essex, were due to be evicted after losing a decade-long legal fight over the unauthorised development.

Around 20 bailiffs arrived at the site to begin ejecting them and their many supporters from one half of the six-acre site, a former scrapyard.

An elderly traveller Mary Flynn, 72, earlier lost her challenge against the eviction.

The court had heard she is “too frail” to be moved on.

Riot police were called to the scene to ensure the planned eviction of some 50 homes was conducted peacefully.

Pitches on the legal side of the site – where travellers secured planning permission – will be allowed to remain.

Travellers’ representatives requested a meeting with council officials earlier to ask for a delay, but this was declined.

Council leader Tony Ball said bailiffs would act in a safe manner.

“I am very disappointed that we have come to where we are today,” he said.

He said he understood the travellers on the illegal site were outnumbered by the 50 to 60 supporters protesting against the eviction.

Residents had feared bailiffs would move in at first light. Supporters closed the gate after 11pm on Sunday and built a barricade behind it and parked a van to block the way.

Resident Mary McCarthy said: “I don’t intend to go anywhere, I’m staying here.

“I’ve faced constant evictions throughout my life and now I’m determined to stay put.”

Many residents have moved their caravans on to the neighbouring legal site.

Activists have chained themselves to barricades, including one woman who is chained by the neck.

Marie McCarthy, a resident at the site, told Sky News it was “a big scrapyard that is of no use to anyone else”.

“The Government is not going to ruin our culture,” she said. “This is the way we want to live.

“Why should we be run off our land? We never knew we were breaking the law – we thought this was a good thing to do because we stopped going onto people’s grounds.”

Activists Dean, 29, and Emma, 18, have handcuffed themselves to a pole concreted inside a barrel.

Lying on mattresses, the pair said they were prepared to stay as “long as it takes”.

The families have constantly evaded eviction and claim they have nowhere else to go.

They insist that their human rights are being breached.

Their supporters include the United Nations and Amnesty International.

Liberal Democrat MP Andrew George, the chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on travellers, said the eviction should be put on hold.

Mr George told Sky News: “The Government and the local authority are going to be spending up to about �18m to restore the site to what it originally was, presumably – and that is a scrapyard. It’s going to make it the most expensive scrapyard in history.”

Last month a High Court judge backed Basildon Council and local residents and ruled that the eviction must go ahead.

Supporters inside the site said their demand to Basildon Council is to provide 62 plots to temporarily house those made homeless while planning permission is sought for other sites.

They said the council has asked for a small legal wall blocking the bailiffs’ way to be removed and for two bailiffs to be allowed to look inside the site.

John Baron, Conservative MP for Basildon and Billericay, is calling for a “peaceful site clearance”.

He said: “We have always had moral right on our side in this argument, and I want us to maintain that moral right, right through to the end.

“This site will be cleared, but I don’t want to sacrifice moral right for speed

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