England

Dale Farm travellers vow to resist eviction

  • 18 September 2011
  • From the section England

Travellers at Dale Farm in Essex have vowed to resist eviction by locking themselves to property on the site.

Resident Kathleen McCarthy, a spokesman for the community, said: "We are living on a hope that they will realise we are not animals - we are humans."

It was no longer about greenbelt land but hatred and prejudice, she said.

Basildon Council is preparing to begin clearing the site from 08:00 BST on Monday after a decade-long row over unauthorised plots.

The BBC's Jeremy Cooke, at Dale Farm, said the council had told him it was not stepping down from its position and was determined to press ahead with its action.

Earlier, the council said about 12 families had already left the unauthorised site at Crays Hill.

Residents said among them were the very young, the vulnerable and the elderly.

Ms McCarthy insisted though, the remaining adults would lock themselves to their properties for "as long as it takes".

She would not say how many planned to take part, but it is understood as many as 400 people were thought to have been living on the 51 plots, making it the UK's largest unauthorised travellers' site.

She appealed to Prime Minister David Cameron to stop bailiffs from making them homeless.

'Calling the shots'

Throughout Sunday, supporters and travellers made last-minute preparations, reinforcing barricades and building a wall to block the bailiffs' entry point.

Dale Farm aerial photo
Illegal pitches, to the left of the red line, are at the centre of the dispute over Dale Farm

A last-minute meeting between residents and the council was cancelled after representatives were apparently told by protesters they were no longer welcome.

Cllr Tony Ball, leader of the council, said he was "very concerned" by 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," he said.

"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."

'Children in danger'

Kathryn Flynn, mother of three and resident at Dale Farm for 10 years, said she was moving onto her uncle's site on Sunday night.

Demonstrators mix cement to construct a brick wall to block bailiffs
Barricades and walls are being built to block out bailiffs

"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," she said.

Essex Police warned residents to expect a "significant increase" in police vehicles during the eviction, which is expected to last up to six weeks.

The police have set up a temporary base at Barleylands in Billericay.

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.

On Friday a last-ditch bid to halt the site clearance was rejected by an appeal judge.

He refused to allow a challenge to an earlier High Court ruling which denied the travellers a temporary injunction to stop their eviction.

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