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(en) Britain, Media, Dale Farm in Crays Hill, Essex - Please just go quietly: Council leader makes last ditch plea for travellers to abandon illegal site as bailiffs prepare to flatten camp

Date Thu, 01 Sep 2011 17:05:20 +0300


50 anarchists have already joined travellers at Dale Farm in Crays Hill, Essex Perimeter has been barricaded with barbed wire and gates are guarded ---- A council planning to evict 1,000 travellers from their illegal site today issued a last ditch plea to the families to move off the site peacefully to halt the need for bailiffs to move in. --- A 28-day notice served on residents of Dale Farm, near Basildon, Essex, expired last night, after the travellers failed in a High Court bid to stop the eviction. ---- Police fear bloody confrontations with bailiffs and officers as outsiders attempt to turn the protest into a politically motivated riot. ---- Resistance: The Dale Farm travellers say that they won't go quietly if police move in. Many locals fear the situation will turn ugly. - Resistance: The Dale Farm travellers say that they won't go quietly if police move in.

Many locals fear the situation will turn ugly ---- Big issue: Dale Farm is the largest Romany Gypsy and Irish Traveller site in the United Kingdom

Big issue: Dale Farm is the largest Romany Gypsy and Irish Traveller site in the UK

About 50 anarchists have already joined the 1,000 travellers at Dale Farm and many more are expected over the coming days, say police sources. As the High Court yesterday gave the go-ahead for the camp at Crays Hill, Essex, to be closed down, the travellers were already digging in for a war of attrition.

Today Basildon Council leader Tony Ball said: 'I am making a final appeal to the residents to leave Dale Farm peacefully.

'I would also ask any visitors to the site or anyone who truly has the travellers' interests at heart to urge them to do this as well.

'Direct action to clear Dale Farm is a last resort for the council and we take it reluctantly - but after almost 10 years of legal wrangling, the travellers have left us with absolutely no choice.

'This settlement has been illegally developed on greenbelt land. By doing this and failing to comply with various enforcement notices over a period of years, the travellers have broken the law.

'By taking this action we are not discriminating against the people on Dale Farm - we are treating them the same as we would any other resident in the local area who built on or developed greenbelt land without permission.

'We now have a difficult operation which we will carry out in a safe and lawful fashion.

'We will continue to offer housing assistance to those who may become homeless as a result of the clearance and we will work closely with other agencies such as the NHS to provide necessary support for the more vulnerable members of the community during the operation.

He added that action will only take place after the travellers have been informed of the date of the operation.

Protest: The residents of Dale Farm say the eviction is a massive waste of public money and that they will put up resistance if police try to force them out

Protest: The residents of Dale Farm say the eviction is a massive waste of public money and that they will put up resistance if police try to force them out

For a number of months now the site – which the travellers bought and then built on without planning permission – had already been fortified in an attempt to deter forced removals.

Officers believe these fortifications are now being strengthened. There is barbed wire and scaffolding at the perimeter and guarded gateways.

High-pressure canisters have been stockpiled which could be detonated, causing serious injury or even death.
Support: Actress Vanessa Redgrave arrives at the High Court for a last-ditch attempt to prevent evictions at the illegal traveller site at Dale Farm, Essex

Support: Actress Vanessa Redgrave arrives at the High Court for a last-ditch attempt to prevent evictions at the illegal traveller site at Dale Farm, Essex
Backing: Vanessa Redgrave speaks to the media at Dale Farm alongside traveller Mary Ann McCarthy, second left, and Dale Farm supporter Anne Kobayashi

Backing: Vanessa Redgrave speaks to the media at Dale Farm alongside traveller Mary Ann McCarthy, second left, and Dale Farm supporter Anne Kobayashi
Controversial cause: The actress commends a campaigner

Controversial cause: The actress commends a campaigner

Large tyres have been placed at strategic points as barriers – although it is believed these will be doused with petrol and set alight.

Travellers had already threatened all-out war if anyone tried to evict them.

An Essex police source said: ‘Up to 2,000 people from 30 different groups could turn up, according to intelligence from a number of sources including social networking websites.

‘The residents of Dale Farm won’t be able to control these groups. Some are getting worried about that. There is anxiety that they have created a monster they cannot control. I think some people will come to Dale Farm who will be intent on violence.’

A traveller living on one of the legal plots next to the farm said he feared that the protest could be hijacked by the anarchists and other outsiders.

‘It’s your right to defend your home but that’s not what these people are here for,’ he said. ‘I don’t want them here and others think the same.’

The 50 who have already made their way to the sprawling green belt site have set up their headquarters on a plot referred to as Camp Constant.

One is understood to have worn a balaclava throughout a meeting with police to protect his identity in a disturbing echo of the way troublemakers disguised themselves at the student protests earlier this year and the recent countrywide looting and rioting.

Unconfirmed reports suggested UK Uncut, whose members occupied Fortnum and Mason in Piccadilly in March as violent groups split from a peaceful march against cuts, could be among them.
Support: Miss Redgrave visits Gratton Puxton, far left, baby Caitlin Mcarthy and her mother at the site ahead of the eviction

Support: Miss Redgrave visits Gratton Puxton, far left, baby Caitlin Mcarthy and her mother at the site ahead of the eviction
Vanessa Redgrave with a traveller of the camp outside the High Court

Vanessa Redgrave with a traveller of the camp outside the High Court

Conservative MP Priti Patel, who represents Withan in Essex, said: ‘This is yet another example of the political Left encouraging law-breaking and shows they are out of touch with all the local communities in Essex who have been affected by illegal traveller sites.

‘We need to see strong action taken to protect families living near these sites, not Left-wingers trawling the bottom of the barrel to find spurious excuses for them to stay.’

Basildon District Council has spent ten years trying to remove around 500 travellers from Dale Farm after they settled beside dozens of legal plots.

It ended up in the Court of Appeal last year when 80 families on 52 plots were ordered to leave. The council issued a 28-day notice to leave the camp which expired at midnight last night. It said it would be ‘checking compliance’ in the coming days.

But police insiders fear that when council-appointed bailiffs arrive it will either trigger bloodshed or lead to a lengthy stand-off.

Vanessa Redgrave, 74, the actress and prominent Left-wing campaigner, was among supporters at the High Court yesterday as the travellers made a last-ditch attempt to stop the eviction. But the action failed.

The case hinged on the treatment of 72-year-old site resident Mary Flynn, who suffers from breathing problems and uses an electric nebuliser.

Mr Justice Kenneth Parker said Court of Appeal proceedings, which considered human rights law and concluded the council’s decision to evict was legal, was of ‘crucial significance’.

Miss Redgrave visited the camp on Tuesday to praise the ‘strong, wise, warm and gentle community’ and say she hoped ‘humanity would triumph’.

Last stand: Supporters and residents of the Dale Farm travellers' site stand on the steps of The High Court as they challenge their eviction order

Last stand: Supporters and residents of the Dale Farm travellers' site stand on the steps of The High Court as they challenge their eviction order

Fighting to stay: The local authority Basildon Council say they will clear the camp of illegal dwellings, despite pleas from the travellers

Fighting to stay: The local authority Basildon Council say they will clear the camp of illegal dwellings, despite pleas from the travellers.
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