Supporters and travellers resisting the clearance of Dale Farm will tonight lock down the site as they prepare for the arrival of bailiffs.
Basildon Council-employed bailiffs are due to arrive at the six-acre illegal site tomorrow morning.
Those on site spent today making last-minute preparations, reinforcing barricades and building a wall to block the bailiffs' entry point.
This evening a final influx of supporters, legal observers and journalists were allowed on to the site. The gate on a scaffold battlement erected at the entry to Dale Farm will be closed at dusk and supporters will reinforce it from behind.
A last-minute meeting between Basildon Council and Dale Farm residents was cancelled after the representatives were told by the protesters that they were no longer welcome on site.
The meeting was planned to explain how the council's contractors would go about starting the site clearance tomorrow and to provide reassurances to the community.
Council leader Tony Ball said: "We are very concerned by these latest developments and reports that so-called supporters appear to be calling the shots.
"We wanted to do everything possible to keep residents updated about the operation and to listen to any concerns and address any final requirements.
"It would appear that we now have no line of communication to the Dale Farm residents. We are very concerned that tension has increased and it may now make our job of clearing the site in a safe and orderly manner even more difficult."
About 80 families living on Dale Farm face eviction following a decade-long row over 51 unauthorised plots. Half of the site, which has planning consent, will remain.
Resident Mary McCarthy said: "I don't intend to go anywhere, I'm staying here. I've faced constant evictions throughout my life and now I'm determined to stay put."
Many residents have temporarily moved caravans on to the neighbouring legal site. They say they do not want their children to face the bailiffs but insist they are not leaving permanently.
Kathryn Flynn, mother of three and resident at Dale Farm for ten years, said: "I'm moving on to my uncle's yard on the other side for tonight because I don't want my children to go through this.
"I'm scared of what the bailiffs will do. They smash up our trailers - our homes. I don't want my children to be in danger, so we're moving them.
"But we've got nowhere to go after Monday. We don't know what's going to happen to us.
"Our children went to school for the last day on Friday. I don't know what to tell them about tomorrow."
Supporters have gathered on the site promising peaceful resistance. They refused to confirm how many are on site but it is thought to run into hundreds.
Meanwhile bailiffs put the finishing touches to a temporary compound to house them during the clearance and police set up camp on nearby farmland.
Officers have been drafted in from all over the country but police say they will only act if there is a threat to public safety.
One supporter, who gave her name only as Marina, said there had been an influx in recent days. She added: "We have spent the day making sure everyone is organised and knows their role and that everybody knows their legal rights."
Simon Evans of Dale Farm Solidarity said it was untrue that the groups had refused to meet the council.
He added: "Travellers and supporters are very happy to meet at any time.
"Both the travellers and supporters merely insisted that the meeting take place outside the Dale Farm site."
Source: PAReuse content