Dale Farm Travellers Launch Fresh Attack On Moves To Evict
PRESS ASSOCIATION -- Residents of the UK's largest illegal travellers' site have launched a fresh, three-pronged attack on moves to evict them.
They came to the High Court in London with a battery of legal arguments contained in three separate applications for judicial review to stop the clearance of Dale Farm near Basildon, Essex.
Basildon Council has been battling for a decade to remove the travellers and their children. The costly tangle of litigation already generated has been condemned by critics as a "farce".
The first challenge was brought by Irish traveller Mary Sheridan. Her counsel, Marc Willers, said the case had an "extensive history" but Ms Sheridan was not claiming she should be allowed to stay at Dale Farm "forever - or indeed for many years, or even a year".
Mr Willers said: "This claim is brought on this basis: there is no alternative, suitable accommodation at this point in time, and it would be disproportionate to be forced to leave in the absence of such accommodation."
It was not being suggested that Ms Sheridan felt she had any hope or prospect of being granted planning permission at Dale Farm in the future. The judge heard the other claims for judicial review would raise several other legal issues under human rights legislation and planning law.
The hearing is now expected to take at least two days.
The clearance of the six-acre site at Dale Farm was due to begin last week after legal proceedings were apparently exhausted after many years of court hearings. But a new High Court injunction prevented bailiffs moving in while the courts grappled with fresh legal arguments.
According to a YouGov poll, two-thirds of the British public support the council's attempt to clear 51 illegal plots which are home to about 400 travellers.
The residents unsuccessfully applied to English Heritage for official protection status for the scaffolding gateway at the site entrance. They say it has become an "emblem of the struggle for travellers' rights".