Saturday, 25 October 2014

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.

Readers' comments (4)

  • Sexton

    Stand by Harlow, here we come...

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  • So one council, Basildon, will get 30% of the funding set aside for the whole country then?

    Perhaps as Basildon is far enough away from the Olympic site and central London the existing site could be used for rough sleepers from Westminster?

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  • Chris

    Interestingly, as a former Basildon resident and Councillor, I have watched the annual announcement ahead of local elections on this matter with increasing merriment, just waiting for the first year when voters hold the Tory to his promise. 20-years on and neither the has the promise been held nor the Tory been held to account.

    There has not been the annual announcement to pledge to resolve the issue with the Laindon Shopping Centre, nor to action the Town Centre regeneration proposals - but the election campaign has only just started I suppose.

    Still, at least this year the Tory Leader has threatened to resign if the farm is not cleared - although he does not state by when!

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  • Ernie Gray

    a time reduced public funding is this approach that a responsible local authority should be taken. Irrespective of the media views of traveller encampments this cost seems inordinate and it is not clear whether any additional cost will be incurred with regard to homeless discharge of duty. It would be interesting to understand the effect on local schools with the relocation of the children and the potential break in their education. Essex man appears to rule. Maybe this will be the new ITV2 programme - The only gypsy in Essex?

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