Essex

Dale Farm: High Court decision on travellers' site on Monday

  • 23 September 2011
  • From the section Essex

A High Court decision on an injunction halting the eviction of residents from the UK's largest illegal travellers' site will take place on Monday.

Basildon Council is hoping to overturn an injunction won by residents of Dale Farm in Essex stopping the clearance.

Judge Mr Justice Edwards-Stuart adjourned the hearing until Monday and said he would deliver a judgement on the injunction that day.

He will rule on a separate judicial review in "the middle of next week".

The injunction stopping Basildon Council taking action to clear part of the site is in force until 16:00 BST on Monday.

'Minor squabbles'

The judge said "planning avenues" had been exhausted and litigation could not be viewed as "yet another springboard for delay".

The judge told the opening of the hearing the council had spent "substantial physical and financial resources" and courts had a duty to make sure "valuable resources" were not wasted.

The judge said he would not grant a "long stay of execution" to allow "minor squabbles" to be settled.

The judge then heard the Dale Farm Solidarity Network, a group of protesters helping the travellers fight eviction, was about to lodge another judicial review bid.

Ellen Wiles, appearing for the network, said the group was taking its own legal action on the basis that enforcement action against the travellers was "irrational".

She asked the judge to allow the network to join the injunction proceedings as its members were "legitimate protesters on the site".

The judge gave permission, but said the network was limited to making submissions in relation to any property it had at Dale Farm.

'Brightening up court'

Five sisters who live at Dale Farm donned identical short-sleeved blouses to show "solidarity" at the hearing.

The McCarthy sisters - Joanna, 38, Tina, 40, Margaret, 46, Kathleen, 50, and Marie, 55 - wore blue and pink floral-patterned tops as they sat in the front row of Court Four.

Mr Justice Edwards-Stuart congratulated the "ladies for their lovely turnout" and added: "It is very nice to see somebody brightening up the court."

A number of travellers who had left the site have returned since the injunction was granted on Monday 19 September.

On Thursday, a supporter of the Dale Farm residents, Jenny Clapham, said many of the travellers were scared about the future.

She said: "Obviously it's nice to be back in what they feel are their homes, and the kids are out playing again with each other, but there is still a lot of fear."

A Basildon Council spokesman said there was no council presence on the site, it had complied with the conditions of the injunction and was awaiting the outcome of the hearing.

Council leader Tony Ball said previously he was "extremely disappointed" the travellers had returned and that much of the barricade at the gate remained.

"The fact that this main barricade has not yet been removed, and is unlikely to be, shows a blatant disregard for the law and the obligations of the injunction," he said.

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