Dale Farm Injunction Extended

Residents facing the threat of eviction from the UK's largest illegal travellers' site in Essex have been given more breathing space over the weekend.

A judge has continued an existing injunction until 4pm on Monday 26th September to prevent Basildon Council from clearing the Dale Farm site.

Mr Justice Edwards-Stuart is having to decide whether the injunction should be continued further and said he hopes to give his decision on Monday.

Sitting at London's High Court the judge said: "This is a very difficult area and I can quite assure everyone I am giving it the most anxious consideration.''

Lawyers for the travellers said they welcomed Basildon's acceptance that the case raised "serious triable issues''. They hope this could lead the judge to continue the injunction pending a hearing at some future date.

Candy Sheridan, vice-chairman of the Gypsy Council, said: "Basildon have conceded pitch by pitch, plot by plot. Dale Farm will live on. We accept the legality of the enforcement notices. We were always concerned about over-enforcement.''

Outside court, council leader Tony Ball said he was disappointed the council would have to wait until Monday for the judge's full ruling. He said: "I am personally somewhat disappointed, but I understand (the judge) feels he needs to see justice is done. After 10 years, if it means just a few more days, then it is worth it.''

The possibility of the long-running battle over the future of the site being settled quickly was put in doubt when the judge was told two fresh applications for judicial review to stop the evictions are now also pending. If they go ahead, they could add thousands of pounds more to the already huge legal bill generated by the Dale Farm saga over a decade.

Council officials said the site - thought to be home to around 400 travellers - contains about 50 illegal pitches. They say the clearance operation will already cost the taxpayers around £18 million.

Marc Willers, appearing for the Dale Farm residents, said that - separately from Friday's hearing - the residents were applying for permission to seek a judicial review on the grounds that the whole eviction process was"`disproportionate". The judge said he would consider the application next week.

Heart reporter Declan Harvey was at the High Court hearing.