Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Dale Farm traveller exodus to begin

Dale Farm Travellers site in Cray's Hill, Basildon, Essex

Travellers living on the UK's largest unauthorised site are expected to begin leaving voluntarily.

At least one chalet, carried by two trucks, and eight caravans have been seen leaving Dale Farm near Basildon this week.

Residents say that while some feel it is their duty to remain on site and ensure the clearance, due to begin on Monday, is conducted lawfully, others will take "holidays".

One supporter based on Dale Farm, who gives her name only as Marina, wrote on Twitter: "A lot of thought being given to ensuring the children off site and safe during the eviction - should it come to that."

A traveller, who declined to be named, said: "There are a lot of us who are determined to stay and feel we have a duty to protect our homes. But we have to think about safety and it is likely caravans will begin to leave."

Bailiffs employed by Basildon Council are due to begin the clearance of 51 unauthorised plots on the former scrapyard on Monday.

It is estimated up to 400 people live on Dale Farm although this number fluctuates as residents travel on a seasonal basis.

About 50 homes neighbouring the illegal site have planning permission and will remain.

On Thursday night Basildon Council leader Tony Ball sent an open letter to Dale Farm residents, saying: "I am taking this last opportunity to urge you from my heart to pack up your belongings and leave Dale Farm in a peaceful and orderly fashion.

"If you need any help to move please contact council officers and we will do what we can to assist you."

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