31 Aug 2011

Dale Farm travellers lose eviction battle

Traveller families living at Dale Farm, Essex, face eviction after their High Court loss. A supporter tells Channel 4 News there will be “non-violent direct action” if necessary to stop the eviction.

The families face eviction after losing their last-ditch attempt to stay on their site in Basildon, the largest unauthorised traveller site in the UK.

They had applied for a temporary injunction to stop Basildon Borough Council from evicting them from midnight, the culmination of a 10-year legal battle.

But the High Court dismissed their application earlier today despite pressure from high-profile supporters including the actress Vanessa Redgrave.

Review of medical evidence

However there is some hope for the travellers, after Basildon Borough Council said it would review “medical evidence” in the case of one of the residents.

Mary Flynn, who is 72-years-old, suffers breathing problems and uses an electric nebuliser.

The case hinged on the circumstances of her situation, and Basildon Borough Council has now given a legal undertaking to review fresh medical evidence relating to Mrs Flynn’s case before proceeding against her. This is likely to delay any eviction proceedings until the legal undertakings are made.

People will be engaging in non-violent direct action to do that to protect people’s homes and livelihoods. Jake Fulton, Dale Farm Solidarity Group

But Jake Fulton of the Dale Farm Solidarity Group told Channel 4 News the residents and supporters were preparing for the worst.

“Everyone is devastated. It’s a pretty crushing blow,” he said.

“I can’t comment on what legal redress may be available but we will all hope for that. If not, people are getting ready to be human rights monitors and check on what bailiffs are doing if it comes to that situation.

“At the end of the day, people do want to stop this eviction and they will be engaging in non-violent direct action to do that to protect people’s homes and livelihoods.”

Last resort

The travellers at Dale Farm own the land they are living on, but they do not have planning permission to live on it. This is what the local council says they need – and the travellers say the council is refusing to give them.

Basildon Council said eviction was a “last resort” but it had “no choice”.

Council leader Tony Ball said: “We will now continue with our preparations for the clearance of Dale Farm. But this will take place only after we have informed the travellers of the intended date when the operation will begin.

“Direct action to clear Dale Farm is a last resort for the council and we take it reluctantly – but after almost 10 years of legal wrangling and exhausting the judicial process the travellers have left us with absolutely no choice. They have broken the law which we are duty bound to uphold. And this is what we believe the vast majority of local people expect us to do.”