The last legal bid by Travellers to prevent being evicted from Dale Farm, near Baildon, has failed. There are more than 240 residents in the area, and Basildon Council is planning to remove their homes after a 10-year planning row. The clearing was due to happen on Wednesday at midnight, but it's been reported that they have a seven-day extension while the council finalises the details. Local authorities say that about 50% of the site, which is six acres, has been developed without permission.
Lawyers for the Travellers focused their High Court case on 72-year-old Mary Flynn, who has problems breathing, arguing that it would be dangerous for her to be moved due to her fragile condition. However, the judge dismissed the injunction application, which would have delayed Basildon Council from sending in bailiffs. In light of Flynn's condition though, the council plans to look at fresh medical evidence before she is moved.
The eviction and the police operation that will accompany it is anticipated to cost an estimated £18 million, which will come out of taxpayers' pockets. In Camp Constant, a group of activists is reportedly getting ready to help the Travellers defend the community and keep bailiffs away as long as they can. With a possibility of violent resistance during the eviction, Essex police say they will continue monitoring the situation.
Kathy Mcarthy, the spokesperson for the Dale Farm community, highlighted how much it would cost and pointed out that the council has done the same thing to many families in the last few months. Now there is concern about how the council plans to rehouse the people they are making homeless. It's obviously not Traveller or Gypsy culture to live in houses, so it's completely alien for both groups to think about living in a homeless shelter or council flat, she added.
The Dale Farm residents were given support from Vaness Redgrave, an actress, political activist and Unicef goodwill ambassador. She said that she believes the eviction will be illegal under international human rights. The Gypsies aren't the villains, and those who are trying to do their best should get support from society. She is also appalled that the government can uphold such an act.
Gypsy Council Joseph Jones told journalists that Basildon Council turned the planning row into a race issue. However, council leader Tony Ball said that the people being evicted are being treated the same as any other citizens. The clearance doesn't have anything to do with the Travellers' lifestyle choice or background. They have spent the last decade trying to find a peaceful solution to the illegal Dale Farm site. The eviction was a last resort, but the travellers have left them with little option after wearing out the legal process, he added.