Dale Farm activists celebrate eleventh-hour reprieve as eviction bailiffs wait in the wings

Click to follow

Residents still holding out against eviction from the UK's largest travellers site won an eleventh-hour reprieve last night after a High Court judge granted an injunction preventing buildings at Dale Farm from being dismantled pending a hearing on Friday.

People living on the site and their supporters chanted as news broke that bailiffs would not be entering Dale Farm. One said she hoped it would now give them time to take their case to the European Court of Human Rights.

"It is so good, it is a victory," said Richard Sheridan.

Kathleen McCarthy said: "I'm not going to blow a trumpet but now the council might know that we're human beings and this is not proper what they're doing."

The day had begun with despondent residents and protesters putting the finishing touches to their Alamo.

Some protesters had attached themselves to barricades, while residents folded up chairs behind the lines of defence guarding the front gates and sat in defiance, awaiting the bailiffs who had begun to gather outside.

Mr Sheridan, head of the Dale Farm Housing Association, said they were "ready for whoever comes in".

One resident was seen walking around with a golf club and others talked of putting up a fight. But the visit of the bailiffs proved brief.

Lawyers representing residents argued in the High Court that notices of eviction handed out by the council were not sound because they did not explain what could be removed or how this could be done safely.

Residents had been warned before the High Court decision that many of them would not be allowed to resettle near their friends and families by council officials, who added that those who parked their caravans in Basildon once they were eventually forced from their homes, would be "kept moving".

Mr Justice Edwards-Stuart said there was a realistic fear that the measures being taken by Basildon Council might go further than the terms of the enforcement notices.

The order prevents the local authority from cutting off utilities such as electricity unless they pose a danger. The judge said the residents had to take reasonable steps to permit council officials on site to discuss arrangements with individuals, to discourage further protests and to arrange the dismantling of barricades.