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Council chief 'baffled' by Miliband

Basildon Council leader Tony Ball has said he is "baffled" after the local authority was accused of "grandstanding" by Labour leader Ed Miliband.

Mr Miliband told BBC Look East that the council had not handled the Dale Farm issue "sensitively".

But Conservative Mr Ball said Mr Miliband had backed the council's stance earlier this month.

Mr Miliband made his criticisms as travellers asked a High Court judge at a hearing in London to rule that the council had treated them unfairly.

"I'm baffled. It is only a couple of weeks ago he said he supported what the council were doing," said Mr Ball. "I'm struggling to see where he is coming from."

Asked by BBC East political correspondent Andrew Sinclair who was to blame for the stand-off at Dale Farm, Mr Miliband said: "The council has to be held responsible because they haven't provided alternative sites and I don't think they have handled the situation very sensitively.

"As I understand it, there aren't alternative sites and there haven't been alternative sites provided and I think instead of, if you like, grandstanding, the council should provide those alternative sites."

Mr Ball said: "We are... very satisfied with the way our legal team has set out the council's case, and we remain confident that we will get the result we require to let us get back to clearing the illegal traveller settlement at Dale Farm.

"Some may have thought dealing with these challenges would be a sprint - it has however turned out to be more of a middle-distance race.

"As I have said before, it has taken 10 years so far, and we now know the vast majority of British people support us, and we can wait a few more days for justice to be done."


From Belfast Telegraph