Probe into new Dale Farm complaint

A council fighting to clear the UK's largest travellers site says it will decide whether to investigate allegations of mismanagement within 10 days.

Basildon Council has received a complaint relating to the planned clearance of 54 unauthorised plots on Dale Farm in Essex.



The complaint, by a Dale Farm supporter, alleges that senior officials misled the council on its ability to legally clear the entire site.



Basildon Council's chief executive, Bala Mahendran, acknowledged the complaint.



He said: "Given the potential serious nature of the issues raised, and in accordance with the council's whistle blowing policy, I will decide on the most appropriate course of action in relation to these matters.



"My intention is to respond within 10 working days, and according to due process.



"The issue will be dealt with as any other complaint or allegation and in line with our whistle blowing policy."



The complaint was lodged by Stuart Hardwicke Carruthers, who is advising the residents' legal team.



He claims mismanagement of the site by the council dates back 30 years to when hardcore and clay was dumped on the green belt site, meaning later planning applications may have been based on incomplete information.



Mr Hardwicke Carruthers also says council officials falsely advised that the site could be cleared in its entirety.



One of the current High Court battles rests on the claim that the council would "over-enforce" enforcement notices if it cleared all of the unauthorised plots.



Bailiffs employed by the Essex council had been due to begin clearing 54 unauthorised plots last month following a decade-long row over planning permission.



The latest row comes as council leader Tony Ball hinted he may resign if the travellers are not evicted by Christmas.



Speaking to the Basildon Echo, he said someone would have to be accountable if the battle to clear the illegal site of up to 80 families dragged on for several weeks.



He added: "If we are still in the same position, and Dale Farm is detracting from all the good work going on in Basildon, then someone has to be accountable.



"This is not about personality, and there are 28 other councillors who would do this instead of me, but as leader I am accountable."



At the most recent court hearing, Mr Justice Ouseley, sitting in London, is expected to rule on the clearance of the site next Wednesday at 2pm.



Travellers' lawyers have argued that Basildon Council's decision earlier this year to take direct action to clear the green belt site of about 400 residents, including about 100 children, was "disproportionate" and must at least be reconsidered.



Lawyers for Basildon, who have fought a 10-year battle to clear the site, argued they had acted lawfully and reasonably and complied with their statutory duty.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Life and Style
Scientist have developed a test which predicts whether you'll live for another ten years
health
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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: Telesales & Customer Service Executive - Call Centre Jobs

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Lancashire - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Developer

£26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003