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London court rules Dale Farm eviction can proceed

More than 300 Irish Travellers had sought an injunction against Basildon Council’s efforts to evict them from their homes in Essex, England.

About 45
About 45 "plots" at Dale Farm have the correct planning permission but 52 have been refused permission by local authorities.
Image: Ian Nicholson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Updated at 8.20pm

MORE THAN EIGHTY families have failed to secure a High Court injunction against eviction from their homes at Dale Farm in Essex, England.

Basildon District Council has been trying to evict the so-called Dale Farm Travellers from the Cray’s Hill site near Basildon since the late 1990s, but efforts were stepped up this year.

Residents of Dale Farm turned up with banners to the High Court in London today. ”This is our last chance to appeal to a judge to stop the eviction”, resident Kathleen McCarthy said earlier on the group’s Facebook page. “We hope British justice will see fit to save us from this act of ethnic-cleansing.”

A message posted on the Dale Farm Solidarity group’s blog this evening said:

The last remaining legal barrier between the eviction of 86 families from their homes at Dale Farm has now fallen. The emergency injunction we sought, which would have delayed the planned eviction, has not been granted. That means that, from midnight tonight, the bailiffs can come at any time.

Basildon Councillor Tony Ball said the council was “satisfied” with the court’s decision and “will now continue with our preparations for the clearance of Dale Farm”. He added that this would “take place only after we have informed the Travellers of the intended date when the operation will begin”.

The local authorities will have to find culturally-appropriate accommodation for the 86 families affected by the decision, which could delay the eviction for months. The Guardian reports that the High Court judge called on the council to provide assurances within a week that the health of Mary Flynn, 72, of Dale Farm would be taken into consideration before eviction.

The Dale Farm group intends to appeal today’s decision.

“Planning laws breached”

Basildon Council claimed that the travellers have breached planning laws by setting up homes in caravans on the six-acre plot of land.

The Council says there are now 51 “illegal pitches” involving up to 240 people on the site in the village of Crays Hill. As a result, they issued a 28-day eviction notice to the travellers on 4 July.

In a statement, the Council said: “If the travellers do not leave, the Council will enter the land after this date and remove all portable and fixed structures, including hardcore and hard standings, from the greenbelt site where breaches of planning law have taken place.”

There are 86 families living on the site and earlier this month two United Nations human rights experts called on the UK Government to “find a peaceful and appropriate solution, and adequate housing” for the more than 300 Irish Travellers that will be affected by any eviction.

Cllr Ball said Basildon had exhausted “the judicial process” in the 10-year planning battle and now has “absolutely” no choice but to forcibly evict the Travellers.

About half of the plots on the site have planning permission, while the other half have been denied permission despite numerous applications and appeals.

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Actress Vanessa Redgrave has lent her support to the Travellers and visited the site on Tuesday to express her solidarity.

The Oscar-winning actress said, “I am certain that the eviction of the Dale Farm Traveller families is illegal under international, mandatory, human rights conventions. I am appalled that such an eviction can be upheld by our government.”

The supporters’ group said that the “senseless eviction” has seen the local settled and travelling communities grow closer together.

A Catholic and Anglican bishop also visited the site on Tuesday. A group of activists have also set up camp to try and halt the eviction.

In pictures – the residents have remained in their homes despite the 28-day eviction notice served to them last month:

London court rules Dale Farm eviction can proceed
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  • Dale Farm Residents

    Dale Farm residents protest outside the High Court today. Source: Seanrr1982 via Twitpic
  • Dale Farm Residents

    Campaigner Grattan Puxton (left), and actress Vanessa Redgrave (right), meet members of the McCarthy family.
  • Dale Farm Eviction

    The travellers site at Dale Farm in Crays Hill.
  • Dale Farm Eviction

    Actress Vanessa Redgrave has campaigned for the travellers.
  • Dale Farm Residents

    Pa Button plays with Badger the dog on the steps of a caravan.
  • Dale Farm Residents

    Twins Evelyn and Megan during a visit by the Bishops of Chelmsford and Brentwood to a caravan at Dale Farm.
  • Dale Farm Residents

    Mary-Ann and Carina play on scaffolding at Dale Farm travellers' site in Essex.
  • Dale Farm Eviction

    The travellers' site near Basildon.
  • Dale Farm Eviction

    Dale Farm residents await the decision of the High Court today.
  • Dale Farm Residents

    Residents have made their feelings known through colourful banners at the farm.
  • Dale Farm Residents

    The Anglican Bishop of Chelmsford Stephen Cottrell and Catholic Bishop of Brentwood, Thomas McMahon visit Nora Sheridan in her caravan at Dale Farm travellers' site in Essex.

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