Dale Farm residents await High Court eviction ruling

Ed Miliband says Basildon Council has not provided alternative sites for the travellers

Lawyers for the Dale Farm travellers are trying to negotiate a deal that would allow some families to stay at the Essex site, it is understood.

Residents have made three separate applications for judicial review to stop the clearance of their homes.

The High Court was told it would be "disproportionate" to remove a family when no suitable alternative existed.

Basildon Council has been trying to remove the families for a decade and has pledged to continue its action.

The court was adjourned until Friday.

BBC Radio Essex political reporter Ben Bland, at the High Court, said the court has been told the legal hearing will run until Monday afternoon next week and judgment will be handed down on Tuesday at the earliest.

Dale Farm residents: "We never slept last night"

The first new challenge has been brought by traveller Mary Sheridan.

Her counsel at the High Court, Marc Willers, told Mr Justice Ouseley it was unjust to evict her when no suitable alternative accommodation was available.

Mr Willers said: "This claim is brought on this basis, there is no alternative, suitable accommodation at this point in time.

"It would be disproportionate to be forced to leave in the absence of such accommodation."

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 expected to take at least two days.

Speaking on his way into court, Basildon Council leader Tony Ball said: "We are confident that we will prevail and the evictions will begin shortly.

"We have professional people and it will go ahead."

'Human rights'

Leader of the Opposition Ed Miliband has said the travellers should be offered suitable alternative accommodation before any eviction starts.

This was rebuffed by Mr Ball who said their operation was "about upholding the law and has nothing to do with 'grandstanding'".

"I would like to remind Mr Miliband that this council has sought a peaceful and negotiated resolution for more than 10 years and we provide more authorised pitches than any other authority in the East of England, and one of the largest numbers in the country.

"I believe we have acted incredibly tolerantly and sensitively to the situation and I have indeed received criticism in some quarters for dealing with the situation too sensitively.

"What more does Mr Miliband think we could have done, and does he believe we should uphold the law or not?"

Tony Ball, Basildon Council leader: "Seven out of 10 people support the council"

A YouGov poll claims two-thirds of the British public support the council's attempt to remove about 400 travellers.

The clearance of the six-acre site was halted earlier this month when lawyers for the travellers obtained a High Court injunction preventing bailiffs moving in while the courts were asked to rule on several areas of contention.

Lawyers are also thought to have argued the eviction would have serious consequences for children living on the site and their schooling, and those with medical conditions.

The eviction would also constitute a breach of the travellers' human rights, lawyers are expected to claim.

The judge will be asked to quash the eviction decision on the grounds that it violates the travellers' rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Court of Appeal previously ruled against the travellers on a human rights application in 2009.

In addition, it is believed the travellers plan to argue on Monday before Mr Justice Edwards-Stuart that the council's plans to go on to the site to demolish hard standings for caravans and remove buildings, walls and fences would amount to "over enforcement", not covered by the notice letter.

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