Thursday, 27 April 2017

Council backs £18m Dale Farm clearance

A group of Gypsies and Travellers who were fighting to stay on the biggest encampment in Europe will be evicted, Basildon Council ruled last night.

The 1,000 people living at Dale Farm, in Essex, will be moved on at a cost of £18 million.

The council was told that the former scrap yard was occupied without planning permission in 2001. Since then, it has battled to clear the site despite numerous protests.

Several hundred members of the public, including Travellers from the site, gathered to hear the debate last night. The vote was passed with Conservative councillors voting for, and Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors voting against.

A statement from the Dale Farm Travellers ahead of the meeting said: ‘A peaceful solution to what must unavoidably become a long-drawn out and violent confrontation – estimates say the operation by the notorious Gypsy specialist eviction bailiffs Constant & Co will take three to six weeks – is already on the table.

‘The Gypsy Council has put in a planning application to develop a model alternative mobile park on land belonging to the Homes and Communities Agency at Pound Lane and is preparing to submit further applications shortly for several brownfield sites in the area of Gardiners Lane South. They would be financed through a £60 million central government fund set up for this purpose, and would cost Basildon nothing.’

The council has yet to announce when the clearance operation will start.

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