Court defeat spells eviction for travellers

Hundreds of travellers, many with small children, were left "desperate" and dismayed today after being told they face being moved forcibly from their homes after a ruling by the Court of Appeal.

The decision is the culmination of a long and bitter row between the Essex residents surrounding the country's largest traveller encampment, who accuse their unwelcome neighbours of bringing crime and anti-social behaviour to the area, and the travellers, who are adamant they are victims of prejudice and victimisation.

Dr Keith Lomax, who represented the travellers of Dale Farm, explained yesterday that many of those under threat were the most vulnerable of the traveller community - the elderly, the sick or those with young children.

"The extent of need on that site is great. The first people who give up travelling because of the stresses are those with the greatest medical and educational needs, people with mental health needs, physical disabilities or those who require the stability of education for kids with special needs," he said.

But today, after fighting through the courts for four years, more than 60 families heard they could be moved on from the Green Belt land at Crays Hill.

The travellers' spokesman Grattan Puxon warned that the situation could explode into violence if the bailiffs were sent in.

"The women are very, very upset and the men are very, very defiant. They will defend the farm. There is nowhere for them to go and it is very traumatising for the children. I am not advocating violence but violence is brought to us by the bailiffs who have terrorised the children in the past," said Mr Puxon.

Three judges reversed a ruling by a High Court judge who quashed a decision by Basildon District Council to take direct action to force compliance with enforcement notices over the land in Billericay, Essex. Lord Justice Pill said the High Court judge, Mr Justice Collins, was "in error" to find that consideration had not been given to the individual families and the council's decision to clear the sites was lawfully taken.

Mr Puxon said that as many as 80 primary school children would lose their places at school while a plan for a new school for 50 secondary pupils - prevented from taking up education to date because of "racist taunts" - would be under threat if they were moved on.

Travellers first began settling there in the 1960s when permission was granted for 40 families. But over the past eight years it has grown with many others gravitating towards Dale Farm without permission, often having been evicted from elsewhere. Travellers bought land on an old scrap yard, which is designated Green Belt, and the community grew to more than 1,000 people.

Since 1990 the total number of gypsy and traveller caravans had increased nationally by 44 per cent but in the Basildon District, the numbers rose by over 475 per cent.

In May 2005, the council voted to bring in enforcement notices to remove more than 1,000 people in because there was no planning permission for their caravans. But the residents won an eleventh hour reprieve to stop the bailiffs and demolishing of the site, starting a long legal battle to hold on to their homes.

But today Lord Justice Pill overturned the High Court judgement that the council's decision to evict the residents of Dale Farm by direct action was unlawful.

Dr Lomax insisted that the court had ordered that the council still has to decide what action to take and he hoped they would respect its legal duty towards those made homeless. He is still hoping that the case may go to the House of Lords.

"It is hoped that the council now acts reasonably and thinks very carefully before sending in the bulldozers to clear the entire site," said he lawyer, adding that the more than a year ago the East of England Regional Assembly determined that Basildon Council needed to provide 81 additional plots for travellers yet not a single one had been created.

"Now, Basildon council, it is up to you. People need places to live," he said, adding: "Site provision is the answer, not endless evictions onto the open road. Stop passing the buck."

Yesterday Bala Mahendran, Chief Executive, Basildon District Council, said: "The Council wishes to make it clear that although officers will start the detailed planning for the clearance operation straight away, any evictions will not take place immediately."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
An asteroid is set to pass so close to Earth it will be visible with binoculars
news
News
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

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project