Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

Travellers plan eviction bid appeal

The entrance to Dale Farm, the UK's largest illegal travellers' site, near Basildon in Essex
Residents of Dale Farm, from left the McCarthy sisters Margaret, Maria, Nora and Kathleen, at The Royal Courts of Justice in central London

Residents of Dale Farm, the UK's largest illegal travellers' site, have lost their High Court battle against eviction - but are now planning an appeal.

They attempted to block their removal from the controversial site near Basildon, Essex, in three linked applications for judicial review.

Mr Justice Ouseley, sitting in London, ruled they had delayed too long in challenging Basildon Council's decision to take direct action against them. The judge also ruled the council's actions were not "disproportionate".

He said the travellers were breaking criminal law on a daily basis by remaining on the site and their removal was necessary to avoid "the criminal law and the planning system being brought into serious disrepute."

The ruling was a victory for Basildon Council chiefs who have fought a costly 10-year campaign to clear the site. The judge refused the travellers permission to appeal, but those in court said they would ask the Court of Appeal itself to hear their case.

Travellers at the Dale Farm site said they were going to stand their ground and resist eviction. Dale Farm Solidarity member Jake Fulton addressed the media outside the gates of the travellers' home, saying the families were "too distraught" to speak after they lost their High Court battle.

Basildon Council's leader Tony Ball said : "This is not a day for triumphalism, but I do take quiet satisfaction on behalf of local people that in all matters the council has been found to have acted lawfully. We believed all along that we were doing so, and as you can imagine I welcome the decision of the court confirming this."

"I strongly urge the travellers not to return to the path of unlawful resistance. As I have said they have had their day in court - having sought the support of the law of the land they must now obey that same law. They cannot adopt a pick and mix approach to the law.

"It is too early yet to say exactly when the site clearance will begin. That will be a decision for the officers and our partners, such as the police, and will primarily depend upon how quickly all the necessary resources can be put back in place so it can be done safely."

The judge said travellers, some of whom received legal aid, should pay the council's legal costs. Reuben Taylor, for Basildon Council, said the site would not be cleared before Monday.

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