29 September 2011
High Court hearing 10:30 am, the Strand, courtroom 4, before Mr. Justice Ouseley
Today, the High Court will be considering whether three Judicial Reviews which challenge the legality of Basildon Council’s eviction plans have merit and should proceed. If a hearing is granted, it could stop the £18 million eviction in its tracks. If the ruling goes against Dale Farm residents, they could face imminent eviction and homelessness.
Some of the arguments which will be made in the Judicial Reviews are:
- Basildon Council should have used other methods to resolve the issue including negotiating with the residents for a new site. For example, documents filed in court will show they even went so far as to refuse an offer of free land for alternative sites from the Homes and Communities Agency .
- The enforcement is disproportionate – neighbours of Dale Farm have been granted retrospective planning permission for homes built as illegal developments .
- Basildon Council disregarded the requirement to provide 62 pitches .
- The Council’s attempted eviction failed to consider that Dale Farm was a former scrapyard. Now, they are being forced to backtrack on many of their enforcement plans, meaning that the £18 million eviction will be partial. The Council’s disproportionate action will shatter the Dale Farm community yet fail to restore the greenbelt.
Mary Sheridan a resident at Dale Farm said:
“I pray to God the Judge lets us stay here on our land. This is our home and we’ve nowhere to go. If we can’t live in a former scrapyard then where can we live? Our children won’t get educated if they make us homeless. We’ve got a fighting chance here and that’s the best chance Travellers have ever had.’
Sam Thompson of Dale Farm Solidarity said:
“Spending £18 million of public money on making 83 families homeless is clearly senseless. The question for the court today is whether it might also be unlawful. Basildon Council should be looking to the negotiating table for solutions, not to bulldozers and hired muscle.”
Notes to the Editor:
1 – Some of the documents that have been presented to the Court as evidence are available to download. The letter from Homes and Communities offering free land is available at http://dalefarm.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/110831-richard-howitt-mep-3.pdf
2- Planning documents filed in court show that the home of Dale Farm’s closest neighbour was built as an illegal development and then given retrospective planning permission: http://dalefarm.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/windyridge-oak-rd-crays-hill-history.pdf. Unlawful quote is from para 15. Pictures of the caravan available on request. http://dalefarm.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/windyridge-oak-rd-crays-hill-2.pdf. Ironically, the house is now home to anti-Traveller activist Len Gridley,
3- This Regional Strategy requirement will be removed if the Localism Bill passes, meaning there will be many more Dale Farms.
07583761462 for media at Dale Farm.
07040900905 for media at the High Court.