Belfast Telegraph

Monday 28 July 2014

Notice served on Dale Farm homes

Dale Farm residents lock the gates on the legal site after removing their caravans from the illegal area
Bailiffs start to dismantle buildings on Dale Farm after the end a two-day stand-off with travellers and protesters
A woman carries a statue as she leaves Dale Farm near Basildon, Essex

Council officials have served 48-hour notices detailing how they will remove homes from the UK's largest illegal travellers' site.

Despite a mass walk-out of travellers and supporters from Dale Farm, Essex, on Thursday, between 20 and 30 people spent the night inside the site. Among them was mother-of-two Margaret Flynn, who is entitled to keep her caravan on the site, although the hard-standing beneath it will be removed.

She said: "We hardly slept last night, the kids just kept thinking about what had happened and how the police came into the site. I'm entitled to stay but it is not home any more. It felt very lonely in here."

Basildon Council officers, escorted by police and bailiffs, toured the site on Friday morning, placing notices on structures. The notices inform residents what will be removed. This includes demolishing fences and walls to allow access, although these will be reinstated.

Some residents have asked bailiffs to remove their homes, and one mobile home has already been placed inside the council compound. The police presence on site was low key, made up largely of community officers and commanders dressed in normal uniform.

The majority of the clearance is likely to get underway on Monday. A council spokesman said properties would be removed "with care" and not demolished. Hard-standings and roads will then be torn up.

The majority of the travellers spent the night on the legal side of Dale Farm. Council leader Tony Ball said he was not aware of any travellers trespassing on private land on Thursday night.

Basildon Council said its objectives for the day were to maintain access to and from the site and help with voluntary departures. A spokesman said: "When appropriate, the council contractors will secure a certain area of the site and start work on clearing individual plots - these zones will be subject to construction design and management regulations and access will be restricted."

Mr Ball said: "I am pleased that it was a quiet night on site, with no issues reported. Now that the protesters have left, we can talk to the traveller families remaining about their options and help those who wish to leave. We remain committed to carrying out the site clearance in a safe and professional manner."

The clearance brings to an end a decade-long row over unauthorised plots. The majority of the 51 plots will be removed, although some will stay, either entirely or in part, in accordance with the High Court ruling.

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