Council counts cost as Dale Farm travellers win latest court battle

 

Travellers faced with eviction from Dale Farm have called on the local council to reopen negotiations after winning another High Court victory, causing more costly delays to the operation to remove them from their homes. The residents and their supporters said continuing with the evictions was "senseless" because of the likelihood that parts of the site will have to be left alone or rebuilt by the council after the evictions, meaning it could never be fully returned to Green Belt status.

Yesterday, the judge said the repeated delays, which now run to at least 14 days, have cost Basildon council "millions, or at least hundreds of thousands, of pounds per day".

Kathleen McCarthy, a Dale Farm resident, said: "We said that the eviction is senseless and it can't achieve anything. We need to find a way out of this that isn't going to break our people up, tear this community apart, and break the bank at Basildon Council at the same time."

In his judgment yesterday, Mr Justice Edwards-Stuart said a further court hearing was required to determine which structures on the site the council would be able to remove or demolish. The judge said: "This result has come about mainly because the terms of the enforcement notices issued between 2002 and 2004 may not have been sufficiently precisely drawn, although the extent to which this may prove to be the case has yet to be finally determined."

He added that there were "triable issues in relation to almost every plot" on the site, which will be discussed at another hearing next Monday.

On Thursday there will also be a hearing to look at an application for judicial review. Dale Farm residents say they plan to bring the action on the grounds that eviction is "disproportionate" under human rights laws.

Tony Ball, Leader of Basildon Council, said: "After 10 years, if we have to wait a few more days to follow due process and get things right then that is what we will do."

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