Dale Farm: Home Office pledges cash for eviction costs

Dale Farm Traveller families began to set up pitches illegally on green belt land at Dale Farm in 2001

The Home Office has announced it will pay up to £4.65m towards the cost of evicting travellers and Gypsies from an illegal site in Essex.

The money will go towards policing the clearance of Dale Farm, between Billericay and Basildon.

The announcement comes after the Department for Communities and Local Government confirmed it would contribute £1.2m towards the eviction.

Basildon Council is expected to serve notice on the travellers shortly.

The "worst case scenario" cost of evicting the travellers from Dale Farm, the largest travellers' site in Europe, is estimated by Essex Police at £9.5m.

The force said in a statement: "Essex Police can confirm that the Home Office has notified us of its intention to fund up to £4.65m towards the policing costs associated with the Dale Farm eviction.

"However, negotiations over the remaining funding are still taking place and it would not be appropriate to comment further at this time."

'What price law and order?'

John Baron, Conservative MP for Basildon and Billericay, said: "Negotiations with government departments have not always gone smoothly.

"But after raising the issue both privately and publicly with the prime minister, the government has correctly come round to the view that it has a responsibility to ensure the site is cleared, otherwise we would all ask: What price law and order?

"The £4.65m from the Home Office and £1.2m from the Department for Communities and Local Government represents major progress.

"Negotiations continue regarding the remaining balance needed to cover all potential police costs, but I am hopeful we will have positive news next week."

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