Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Probe into new Dale Farm complaint

Basildon Council confirmed it had received a complaint from the legal team of the Dale Farm residents

A council fighting to clear the UK's largest travellers site says it will decide whether to investigate allegations of mismanagement within 10 days.

Basildon Council has received a complaint relating to the planned clearance of 54 unauthorised plots on Dale Farm in Essex.

The complaint, by a Dale Farm supporter, alleges that senior officials misled the council on its ability to legally clear the entire site.

Basildon Council's chief executive, Bala Mahendran, acknowledged the complaint.

He said: "Given the potential serious nature of the issues raised, and in accordance with the council's whistle blowing policy, I will decide on the most appropriate course of action in relation to these matters. My intention is to respond within 10 working days, and according to due process. The issue will be dealt with as any other complaint or allegation and in line with our whistle blowing policy."

The complaint was lodged by Stuart Hardwicke Carruthers, who is advising the residents' legal team.

He claims mismanagement of the site by the council dates back 30 years to when hardcore and clay was dumped on the green belt site, meaning later planning applications may have been based on incomplete information.

Mr Hardwicke Carruthers also says council officials falsely advised that the site could be cleared in its entirety.

One of the current High Court battles rests on the claim that the council would "over-enforce" enforcement notices if it cleared all of the unauthorised plots.

Lawyers for Basildon, who have fought a 10-year battle to clear the site, argued they had acted lawfully and reasonably and complied with their statutory duty.

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