Bailiffs' pyrrhic victory in fight to clear Dale Farm caravans

 

Most of the caravans at the Dale Farm travellers' site can be removed, a High Court Judge has ruled, more than two weeks after residents won a last-gasp injunction postponing any clearance.

Basildon Council have been authorised to remove caravans from 49 out of 54 plots, together with most of the concrete pitches on the site. Walls, fences and gates on the site, however, cannot be removed.

In his ruling, Mr Justice Edwards-Stuart said the steps to remove the caravans "are unpleasant and upsetting for the residents", but insisted that they had to be taken.

"It is important that the dignity of all concerned is respected and that the thing is done in as civilised a manner as possible," he said.

The ruling removes a major obstacle for the council, which has been trying to remove travellers from the site for a decade. But campaigners were optimistic yesterday that the court's decision to allow some of the buildings to remain now makes any eviction less likely.

"We're quite jubilant. An element of common sense has come in to the situation," said Grattan Puxon, the founder of the Gypsy Council. "There are five properties that cannot be cleared, and it's quite clear that Basildon Council cannot complete the eviction as they wanted to. It cannot be restored to green belt."

The court also ordered Basildon Council to pay a third of the travellers' legal costs in relation to the injunction in yesterday's hearing.

The estimated cost to evict the residents is now expected to reach more than £21m. President of the Dale Farm Housing Association and resident of the site, Richard Sheridan, said that the amount spent by the council was a "waste of money", but declined to comment further until the residents' legal challenges had been exhausted.

The council has been battling for a decade to remove the travellers, who now number some 400 individuals on more than 50 pitches, from the green belt site.

The Court of Appeal ruled against Dale Farm travellers in 2009 after they sought a judicial review claiming their human rights had been breached. The clearance was finally due to begin on 19 September after legal proceedings were apparently exhausted.

But a new High Court injunction prevented bailiffs moving in while the courts grappled with the fresh legal arguments.

They involved human rights and planning law and claims that sick and elderly and children on the site would unfairly suffer if the evictions went ahead. The residents have made three separate applications for a judicial review to stop the clearance of around 86 families. These are due to be heard later this week.

Councillor Tony Ball, leader of Basildon Council, said: "I'd much rather be spending this money on other services, investing in what our residents want and need, but ultimately, the law must be upheld."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
An iceberg in Ilulissat, Greenland; researchers have been studying the phenomena of the melting glaciers and their long-term ramifications for the rest of the world (Getty)
news
Environment
environment
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Jackman bears his claws and loses the plot in X-Men movie 'The Wolverine'
film
Arts and Entertainment
'Knowledge is power': Angelina Jolie has written about her preventive surgery
film
News
Zayn has become the first member to leave One Direction. 'I have to do what feels right in my heart,' he said
peopleWe wince at anguish of fans, but his 1D departure shows the perils of fame in the social media age
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing