Monday 22 January 2018

Travellers facing eviction walk out of meeting with council

A resident crosses the main barricade at Dale Farm. Photo: Getty Images
An activist looks out from a barricade at Dale Farm camp as a police helicopter hovers over head on October 17. Photo: Getty Images
The entrance to Dale Farm, near Basildon, Essex. Photo: PA

Ben Kendall

IRISH travellers facing eviction from the UK's biggest illegal site walked out of a meeting with the local council today.

Campaigner Gratton Puxon said the travellers' delegation left the meeting as it became clear the council would not negotiate.

He said: "We raised health concerns about a number of residents, including one who needed medical attention last night.

"We also tried to discuss how elderly travellers will be able to access legal homes, which will stay, if roads and hard standings are destroyed.

"As things stand the council will not budge and can move in at any time and there is no hope of a resolution."

The multimillion-pound clearance operation follows a decade-long row over 54 unauthorised plots at Dale Farm in Essex.

Supporters are today reinforcing barricades as they expect bailiffs to move in tomorrow.

The talks were seen as a last attempt to resolve the planning dispute peacefully after travellers lost a High Court bid to stay on the six-acre site.

Basildon Council has warned that the site clearance could start at any time.

Earlier, one of the travellers claimed that prejudice was behind the decision to move the families.

Kathleen Mc Carthy, who has appealed for help to prevent the evictions by Basildon Council in Essex, said: “We bought this land and it’s still no good. It’s making us break the law. The minute we are on the side of the road we are breaking the law.”

Mrs McCarthy said about 300 people were currently at Dale farm to oppose the imminent evictions.

She said that she could not understand how the land was designated greenbelt by the council when there was a scrap yard on it and five pitches for homes could stay.

Residents were today manning "barricades" after an appeal court ruling left them at the "end of the road".

They said they had gone into "lockdown" and were preparing to "fight off the bailiffs".

A Court of Appeal judge today refused travellers permission to continue their legal fight against Basildon Council.

Lord Justice Sullivan said there was no evidence likely to persuade appeal judges that the council's decision to enforce eviction notices was "unlawful".

Lawyers representing the council said officials were making preparations to take action at the site, said to contain more than 80 families on 50 plots.

A spokeswoman for support group Dale Farm Solidarity said residents and supporters had gone into "lockdown" in "anticipation of an eviction".

Mrs McCarthy added: "The barricades are all that stand between us and homelessness now... We'll have to fight off the bailiffs."

Candy Sheridan, vice-chair of the Gypsy Council and an adviser to the Dale Farm travellers, said of Lord Justice Sullivan's ruling: "It seems like the end of the road."

Irish Independent

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