We're staying put, insist Travellers as eviction looms
Travellers living on the UK's largest unauthorised site have said "we're staying put", as they prepare for bailiffs to move in to clear the site.
Small numbers have begun leaving Dale Farm, near Basildon, ahead of the start of the clearance operation on Monday.
Basildon Council leader Tony Ball said the authority believed 12 or 13 families had left the site voluntarily this week.
Up to 400 people are thought to live on the 51 unauthorised plots and travellers insist many will remain.
Travellers said that mobile homes are being sold to buy caravans.
Richard Sheridan, chairman of the Dale Farm Housing Association, said: "Most of the families are determined to stay -- they have nowhere else to go."
One resident, Elbi (28), said her three-year-old nephew had been having nightmares about the eviction.
She said: "We are going to be homeless We have nowhere to go, no land, nothing."
Meanwhile, an elderly resident is being given a final chance to challenge the clearance of the site.
Earlier yesterday, Irishwoman Mary Flynn was refused permission to go to the Court of Appeal.
Later a spokeswoman for the Judicial Office announced Mrs Flynn was renewing her application at an oral hearing in open court on Monday -- the day the clearance is to begin.
No formal "stay" was granted yesterday to halt the clearance, and it was unclear whether Basildon Council would delay starting evictions pending the appeal hearing.
Normally local authorities do not act until legal proceedings have been exhausted.
The eviction follows a decade-long row over unauthorised plots.
Residents' hopes of appeal judges overturning a High Court judge's refusal to grant a temporary injunction blocking the evictions are pinned on 72-year-old Mrs Flynn and concerns over her health.
She suffers breathing problems and uses an electric nebuliser and has been the crucial protagonist in the High Court battle.