Wednesday 18 January 2017

Long running battle of Dale Farm

Ben Kendall and Lizzie Robinson

Published 19/10/2011 | 09:08

Bailiffs employed by Basildon Council have moved in to begin the eviction of travellers from Dale Farm in Essex. This is how the row unfolded:

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- Small numbers of travellers begin to settle alongside the Dale Farm site, part of which was authorised as a scrapyard. By the 1990s the site had grown to 37 plots authorised by Basildon Council.


- Dale Farm traveller families began to set up pitches illegally on green belt land.


- May - Travellers are ordered to leave Dale Farm after a planning inspector declares the development illegal. Basildon Council votes to bring enforcement action.

- June - Actor and political activist Corin Redgrave suffers a heart attack while speaking at a Basildon Council meeting discussing the future of Dale Farm. He describes travellers as "the most deprived community in the country".


- May - Dale Farm travellers hold a vigil outside Westminster as the British Government discusses new guidance on Gypsy and traveller sites.


- December - The Save Dale Farm Campaign appeals for a rethink following a Basildon Council ruling to hire eviction specialists and bulldoze the site.


- May - Travellers celebrate the opening of a new community centre despite continuing court action from Basildon Council to allow the eviction to go ahead.


- January - The Court of Appeal rules that an earlier judgment in the High Court - which quashed Basildon Council's decision to take enforcement action - was flawed. Lord Justice Pill said the decision to clear the site was lawful.


- March: Basildon Council votes for a fresh resolution to clear Dale Farm. Officials estimate the eviction will cost more than £18 million. The Government agrees to part-fund the council and police operations.

- July: Eviction notices are served by Basildon Council. The council gives residents occupying 51 unauthorised pitches 28 days to vacate the land.

- August 8: The campaign to stop the eviction gathers pace as actress and human rights campaigner Vanessa Redgrave visits Dale Farm. Activists begin to set up "Camp Constant" to help defend travellers.

- Lawyers fail in a High Court bid to halt the eviction.

- September 5: The date for the beginning of the clearance is revealed as September 19. Travellers criticise the council after the date was leaked to the media before they were informed.

- September 16 - Elderly resident Mary Flynn given a final chance to challenge the clearance of the site.

- September 18: Supporters and travellers resisting the clearance of Dale Farm lock down the site as they prepare for the arrival of bailiffs.

- September 19: Bailiffs arrive at the main gate of Dale Farm to start the eviction of up to 80 families living on the unauthorised plot. Later, the residents win a last-gasp injunction preventing the council from clearing structures from the site pending a further court hearing. Elderly traveller Mary Flynn loses her appeal court challenge to her eviction from the site.

- September 21: Travellers flee the site amid fears of eviction. A group of travellers claiming to be from Dale Farm relocate to a public park in Luton.

- September 26: Residents win a temporary reprieve in their long-running battle to stay on the site. A judge rules that residents are entitled to an extension of an injunction stopping their evictions until the courts have ruled on the legality of their proposed removal.

- October 17: Residents refused permission to appeal against a High Court ruling that gave Basildon Council the go-ahead to evict them.

- October 19: Supporters clash with bailiffs and riot police as the planned eviction finally gets under way.

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