Dale Farm travellers' eviction: Scaffolding tower dismantled

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Media captionA digger with cutting equipment begins work on the giant scaffolding structure blocking the main entrance

The 40ft (12m) high scaffolding tower at the entrance to the Dale Farm travellers' site has been dismantled in order to allow evictions to go ahead.

All six protesters who had been chained to barricades inside the illegal part of the site have now been removed.

Candy Sheridan, of the Gypsy Council, said travellers and the remaining protesters had agreed to stage a mass walkout from the site near Basildon.

Police were attacked with missiles when they entered the site on Wednesday.

They made 34 arrests in the operation and dozens of police are still at the scene.

Bailiffs are beginning the process of clearing the site now that it has been secured.

Tony Ball, leader of the Conservative-controlled Basildon Council, said: "The ideal outcome is that the site is cleared in a very short time and that the travellers move to authorised sites or take up the offer of alternative accommodation."

He said the operation should be carried out in a "safe and dignified manner".

'Bruises and scratches'

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Media captionTony Ball: "Where we are now is where we would have liked to have been yesterday morning"

Supt Trevor Roe said officers had suffered only minor injuries "like bruises and scratches".

"Our clear intention is we want to revert to normal community policing as soon as we can."

The first day of the operation saw one protester Tasered.

Supt Roe said the person hit with the Taser "fell back into the crowd" and disappeared.

He added: "If that person wants to make themselves known, we are happy to hear from them."

At a press conference organised by Dale Farm Solidarity, residents said they had not been offered alternative sites or land, only permanent buildings.

Kathleen McCarthy said protesters were not intent on violence and had intended to resist peacefully.

'Scared by violence'

An Essex Police spokesman said those arrested had been held for obstruction or public disorder offences.

Image caption Some travellers slept off-site on Wednesday night but dozens remain

One 26-year-old woman from Hounslow has been charged with failing to remove her face covering and is due before Southend magistrates on 2 November.

The spokesman said that while a number of people had refused to give their name and address, the majority lived outside Essex.

"Only one man lives in Basildon and he is not a resident at Dale Farm," he said.

Mr Ball said he had been made "aware that there are residents who want to leave the site and are being prevented from doing so by the barricade and the actions of the protesters".

"I hope that there are no repeats of yesterday's scenes of pre-meditated violence," he added.

Resident and mother-of-four Mary Sheridan said: "I have nowhere to go, but I was scared by the violence and am worried for my children. As soon as the gate opens I want to leave."

Overnight, protesters remained locked to cars and trucks behind the main gate and a road block inside the site, despite plunging temperatures.

Some travellers slept off-site on Wednesday night but dozens remained.

Two caravans were set alight as police and protesters clashed over several hours on Wednesday.

Cherry-picking machinery was brought in to enable the removal of protesters who had climbed, and in some cases chained themselves, to the upper levels of the scaffolding gantry.

The eviction follows the end of legal moves by the travellers to stay on the land they have owned since 2001 but did not have permission to build on.

Travellers have accused the police of being heavy-handed in the operation to clear the 49 plots.

The cost of the operation to clear the site is expected to reach £18m.

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