Dale Farm Clearance 'Sooner Not Later'

Clearance of the UK's largest travellers' site in Essex will start "sooner rather than later", Basildon Council has said.

On Wednesday, residents of Dale Farm lost their High Court battle against eviction after trying to block their removal from the controversial site near Basildon in three linked applications for judicial review.

The ruling was a victory for Basildon Council chiefs who fought a costly 10-year campaign to clear the site.

Traveller lawyers argued the council's decision earlier this year to take direct action to clear the green belt site of 400 residents, including about 100 children, was in breach of their human rights and unreasonable.

They also said there had been a failure to offer residents suitable alternative accommodation and to take account of vulnerable residents.

But Mr Justice Ouseley ruled they had delayed too long in challenging the council's decision to take direct action against them, and ruled the council's actions were not "disproportionate".

Basildon Council said no steps would be taken to clear the site before Monday (17th October). Leader Cllr Tony Ball said it would take some time to put resources that had been "stood down" back in place to complete the clearance safely.

Dale Farm Solidarity member Jake Fulton said: "People are already flooding back, both travellers and supporters. We are expecting a big swell over the next couple of days and we'll be ready for when they come.''

The judge ruled the travellers were breaking criminal law daily by remaining and their removal was necessary to avoid ``the criminal law and the planning system being brought into serious disrepute''.

He refused the travellers permission to appeal, but those in court said they would ask the Court of Appeal itself to hear their case.