Travellers' eviction date in two weeks

Travellers living on the UK's largest illegal settlement were warned today they would be evicted in two weeks.

Basildon Council will begin the clearance of Dale Farm, near Basildon in Essex, on September 19 after a decade-long row over unauthorised properties on the former scrapyard.



Although half of the site is legal, more than 80 properties have no planning permission and about 400 people are said to be living there illegally.



Travellers and their supporters have promised to resist eviction without violence but police have begun preparations for major disorder.



In a statement, Basildon Council confirmed that travellers had been issued a letter informing them of the eviction date.



The letter encourages them to make homelessness applications as a matter of urgency.



The council also confirmed that electricity supplies to the site would be cut off from September 19 for "safety reasons". Water supplies will continue.



Travellers who need electricity for specific health and welfare reasons have been encouraged to contact the council by September 12.



The authority is also encouraging travellers to contact their GP if they are on medication and to contact Essex County Council about schooling arrangements.



Council leader Tony Ball said: "We have always made it clear that this was a last resort for us, and it is with reluctance that we have been forced to take direct action to clear the site.



"We have sought a negotiated settlement and exhausted the legal system for almost 10 years. In that time the travellers have refused to budge.



"Dale Farm has been illegally developed on green belt land. By doing this and failing to comply with various enforcement notices over a period of years, the travellers have broken the law. As the local authority we are duty bound to see that the law is upheld.



"This is what I also believe the overwhelming majority of the local people expect us to do."



He said the council was not discriminating against travellers as they were being treated in the same way as any other residents who built on green belt land without permission.



Mr Ball added: "We now have a difficult task which we need to carry out in an orderly and lawful fashion with safety the key priority for both the travellers and those involved in the operation.



"We still hope the residents of Dale Farm will reconsider their position and use the final two weeks notice period to move off the site peacefully.



"I hope that any supporters who have gathered at Dale Farm will confine themselves to peaceful and lawful activities. If they really care anything for the travellers they should encourage and help them to move off peacefully in the coming days as we have already asked."



A spokeswoman representing the travellers and their supporters said that the September 19 date meant a longer time-frame than had been expected.



She added: "We were expecting the eviction to be in that week, but this is later than we had believed.



"For the older residents and those with young children it will give them time to make preparations, but it is not a solution - they still have nowhere to go.



"For the supporters, it will act as a focal point for our peaceful resistance. Hopefully, more people will arrive to lend their support now that we have a date."









The Gypsy Council, which is fighting to hold off the eviction, has launched a petition in 11 languages to "get the world to tell the British Government to listen".

Gypsy Council member Joseph Jones said: "Less than a day after the petition was launched in support of the United Nations' call for the eviction to be delayed, it already has 1,321 names.



"We need this delay in order for us to find out what the acceptable solution is."



The petition, published online, calls on Basildon Council to find a "peaceful and appropriate solution" for the gypsy and traveller residents of Dale Farm.



This should include "identifying culturally appropriate accommodation, with full respect for the human rights of the families involved and further, that Basildon Council takes no action against the residents of Dale Farm until such time as it has fulfilled this request".



The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination last week expressed regret at the insistence of authorities to proceed with the eviction.

PA

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future