Basildon Council prepares to take fresh action against Essex travellers


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The Independent Online

A council is preparing to take fresh action after travellers removed from Europe's largest illegal site moved to a neighbouring settlement.

Basildon Council today served enforcement notices on travellers, some of whom had previously lived on Dale Farm in Crays Hill, Essex.

Many moved to the neighbouring Oak Lane legal site following last years mass eviction with some settling on the road approaching the site.

Basildon Council said they had exceeded Oak Lane's legal capacity while residents complained the clearance had only moved the travellers less than 100 metres down the road.

The council confirmed it had served notices on 19 caravans illegally parked on a track leading to the former Dale Farm site.

Leader Tony Ball said: "People know that Basildon Council is committed to upholding the law and will go through the relevant processes to ensure compliance with the law.

"In February we served planning contravention notices giving 21 days to respond to the notices and leave the area.

"Clearly this has not happened, and in this time, the council has been carefully considering the correct options and action available.

"It has taken time, but we have had to be certain that we are taking the right options in regards to this particular breach."

The travellers have until August 29 to appeal. If no appeal is lodged and the travellers do not move on, the council will take "appropriate action" to remove them.

Mr Ball said: "I still find it immensely frustrating that having cleared the illegal site last year, what appears to be a small minority of the original residents are persisting with this dangerous and disruptive behaviour.

"It is also apparent to us that many of those who are there illegally are new to the area and have nothing to do with the original illegal settlement."

There were violent clashes with travellers and protesters as police officers and council employed bailiffs cleared the site in October last year.

The clearance followed a decade-long row over unauthorised plots on the six-acre site.