Traveller: 'The council said I'd get a home, but it's just a hostel'

Families complain their eviction is waste of public funds

Michelle Fox has lived at Dale Farm for 10 years. She has four children and was cradling her youngest, John, in her arms as the bailiffs arrived yesterday.

"I was travelling before I came here," Ms Fox, 38, said. "And I will be on the road again after they kick me out. I will be homeless. The council says they offered me a home, but it was just a hostel.

"How can they think it is right to force a woman with four children to live in a hostel? I have been evicted many times before, I have been moved on from car parks and fields but it has never been like this. We have never had riot police burst in before. I haven't seen this kind of force."

The stretch of greenbelt land at Dale Farm has been a figurative battleground for years. But yesterday it really looked like one.

Burning barricades were erected and police clashed with protesters. A caravan burned to the ground and masked protesters threw missiles at riot officers. Caught in the middle is a community with no idea where it is to go. A protester sat on the floor with a sign that said: "No judge's ruling or law can make this eviction just."

Dale Farm is separated roughly in half, with one section of 54 plots deemed illegal. The courts have ordered that all but five of the plots in the illegal half can be cleared by bailiffs.

Cornelius Sheridan, who has terminal cancer, lives on one of the five plots being spared from eviction. But that doesn't mean he has been spared from the anguish. He was taken out of his home as bailiffs began to enter. The power to the site – which runs his defibrillator – was cut. Two days earlier he had been admitted to hospital with a severe asthma attack; he came back because he was afraid of what would happen to his legal plot.

It is estimated the cost of evicting the residents of Dale Farm will reach £18m in police and council costs. Legal costs on both sides have been considerable.

Basildon Council's Conservative leader, Tony Ball, said Dale Farm residents had been "living on borrowed time" and urged them to leave "peacefully and in a safe and orderly fashion".

He added: "The so-called supporters should also pack up their belongings and leave the site. If they have the Travellers' best interest at heart they will either leave the area now or confine their activities to helping the Travellers to leave over the coming days."

Chief Superintendent Tony Roe said: "A lot of missiles, fluids and other objects had been stored. Intelligence suggested that there was going to be serious disorder if the site was entered."

But Travellers also complained of the police violence they had witnessed and the waste of public funds. Mary Sheridan said: "This eviction is going to cost so much, they could have bought us all five-bedroom houses but we wouldn't want them. We just want to stay here. It is difficult to believe that much in resources could be put into kicking us out of our homes.

"They could have left us. We live in the mucky fields, we put hard-standing down around our homes and all we ask for is an electricity supply and a sup of water."

The Bishop of Chelmsford, Stephen Cottrell, said: "Let us remember that this eviction does not solve the problem but moves it somewhere else. These families are going to have to sleep somewhere tonight."

Suggested Topics
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
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
Sport
Ross Barkley
footballPaul Scholes says it's time for the Everton playmaker to step up and seize the England No 10 shirt
News
'We will fix it': mice in the 1970s children’s programme Bagpuss
science
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
fashion
  • 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: Customer Service Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Retail Buyer / Ecommerce Buyer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - CAD Software Solutions Sales

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A reputable company, famed for ...

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?