High Court to rule on future of Dale Farm families

Today the High Court is expected to reach a decision on whether the Dale Farm residents’ application for a judicial review will be accepted. The announcement is expected by noon. If the judicial review is accepted, the eviction may be delayed for months while its legality is challenged. If it is rejected,Basildon Council is likely to receive the go-ahead to evict the 83 families living at Dale Farm from the land they bought over ten years ago.

Thus far, the Council have refused to offer Dale Farm residents alternative Traveller pitches, but pressure is mounting on them to do so, after it was revealed that they refused an offer of free land and funding for this purpose from the Homes and Communities Agency [1]. The Council have also refused to say whether they will give a new eviction date if they get the go-ahead from the High Court, increasing the anxiety amongst residents in what is already a very stressful situation.

Monday morning’s judgement ruled that not all of Basildon Council’s enforcement notices are valid, so the total clearance they were aiming for cannot be achieved. This nullifies the Council’s claim that the eviction is necessary to ensure the openness of the greenbelt, as fences, gates and concrete will remain in a patchwork across the site, as well as a number of isolated residential plots. [2]

In an email to Tony Ball, residents once again called for negotiations “Nobody can win. Doing a partial eviction makes no sense- families will have nowhere to go but the side of the road, and Dale Farm will be no closer to being greenfield. We have a team of residents who want to negotiate with Basildon – we are not prepared to walk away from our homes.”

Dale Farm supporter, Ali Saunders, said, “Basildon Council must decide whether it will spend upwards of £22 million to tear a community apart and turn their homes into a scrapyard. There are alternatives to this confrontational and expensive eviction.”

All of the Dale Farm residents, apart from those living in a handful of saved plots, are facing homelessness. Basildon Council has neglected its duty of care by not locating appropriate alternatives, even turning down an offer of free land by the Homes and Communities Agency.

Notes to the editor

[1] https://dalefarm.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/110831-richard-howitt-mep-3.pdf>

[2] Illustrated portrayal:
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/26043573/Dale%20Farm%20illustration%20Oct%203rd.PNG

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