Dale Farm Travellers Back In Court

It's another round at the High Court for Dale Farm travellers and Basildon Council.

It's after travellers won a temporary reprieve in their long-running battle to stay on the UK's biggest illegal travellers' site in Essex.

On Monday, a judge ruled that residents of Dale Farm near Basildon were entitled to an extension of an injunction stopping their evictions until the courts have ruled on the legality of their proposed removal.

The ruling was a blow to Basildon Council, which is also facing other legal action that could prolong yet further its 10-year battle to clear the site, expected to cost some £18 million.

On Monday last week Mr Justice Edwards-Stuart granted a temporary injunction preventing the council from clearing the site - thought to house more than 80 families composed of some 400 individuals - pending the ruling.

Travellers said they feared evictions would not be carried out lawfully and that council officials would "over-enforce".

The judge, sitting at London's High Court, said there were "triable issues in relation to almost every plot" as to whether the steps the council proposed to take came within the terms of enforcement notices being used as the basis for eviction.

He said a further court hearing was necessary to determine the facts, and would be concerned principally with the date of construction of structures on the site the council was proposing to remove or demolish.

The judge said: "This result has come about mainly because the terms of the enforcement notices issued between 2002 and 2004 may not have been sufficiently precisely drawn, although the extent to which this may prove to be the case has yet to be finally determined."

The judge said he would consult lawyers for both sides before drawing up his order "in case there are any factual errors or slips".

It's a blow for Basildon Council - who've already spent millions on the eviction battle.

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