Dale Farm traveller site evictions 'were justified'

Eviction of protesters from Dale Farm in Essex
Image caption About 80 families were evicted from Dale Farm amid violent clashes between police and protesters

A council has defended its eviction of travellers from Dale Farm in Essex - despite claims the site has become an eyesore.

Speaking a year since the £7m eviction of travellers from the site in Cray's Hill, Basildon Council leader Tony Ball claimed the action had been "right".

About 80 families were evicted from Dale Farm amid violent clashes between police and protesters last October.

The land was filled with rubble to prevent the travellers returning.

The site is now commonly used for fly-tipping.

Evicted travellers say they have nowhere else to go after an application for a new site at Laindon was turned down shortly after the clearance.

Many of the travellers have instead moved just yards from Dale Farm to neighbouring Oak Lane.

But Mr Ball has defended the eviction action.

'Seen as a problem'

"Doing nothing was simply not an option," he said. "We are now one year on from the site clearance and I am still clear in my mind that what we did was the right thing."

Mr Ball added: "This was about upholding the law, something that every public body is expected to do and something that the majority of our residents supported.

"At its height, Dale Farm had over 80 families and 400 people living there illegally. The objective of the site clearance was to remedy the illegal development in the area, and this objective was achieved."

But Mary Flynn, a former Dale Farm resident, said: "The way we're treated, it's like we're not human beings - we're seen as a problem that they need to get rid of.

"There are more travellers than there are sites, so where do they expect us to live? It's so hard to tell my children that we're never going to get to go home."

Protesters are planning to target the Department of Communities and Local Government offices in London on Friday to mark the first anniversary of the eviction.

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