Legal bid halts traveller evictions
Published 19/09/2011 | 12:52
Residents of the UK's biggest illegal travellers' site have won a last-minute injunction temporarily halting moves to evict them from their homes.
About 200 protesters barricaded themselves inside Dale Farm in Basildon, Essex, as the local council prepared to remove them forcibly from the former scrapyard.
Bailiffs gave residents a final chance to leave voluntarily before they began the process of ejecting them from the site.
But a judge at London's High Court granted an order stopping the local authority from clearing caravans and cars until a further legal hearing on Friday.
Mr Justice Edwards-Stuart said there was a realistic fear that the measures being taken by Basildon Council might go further than the terms of the enforcement notices.
The order also prevents the local authority from cutting off utilities like electricity unless they pose a danger.
But the judge said the residents had to take reasonable steps to permit council officials on site to discuss arrangements with individuals, to discourage further protests and to arrange the dismantling of barricades.
News of the injunction provoked cheers inside the site and travellers taunted bailiffs by singing: "We're not going to go."
Basildon Council leader Tony Ball said he was "extremely disappointed and frustrated" by the judge's decision.
Meanwhile, a separate legal challenge to the eviction, brought in the Appeal Court by 72-year-old traveller Mary Flynn on the grounds of her poor health, has failed.