Undeterred by last month’s brutal clearance, many families are returning to Dale Farm for Christmas.
In response Tory council leader Tony Ball is threatening to have them committed to prison for contempt of court if they breach an injunction preventing re-occupation.
“They have nowhere to go,” says Patrick Egan, owner of Dale Farm House, who is presently giving refuge to 5 caravans on his property. “If forced off here they’ll have to move onto car parks. We’re not leaving Basildon.”
Next week, however, Travellers are meeting head on Ball’s challenge to seek planning permission before occupying another location. A public inquiry opens on Tuesday (22 Nov) into Dale Farm Housing Association’s bid to open a mobile-home park on nearby land for all those made homeless.
The land at Church Road, Laindon, was originally offered by the HCA, a government quango, to Basildon council to help it meet its duty to provide 62 new plots for homeless Travellers in ther district. It refused the offer.
Under the new plan, Basildon could be required to facilitate the release of funds by the HCA for the development. This envisages 12 permanent and 60 temporary plots, which would be made ready as soon as possible for those left without homes at Dale Farm since the eviction.
Meanwhile, costs arising out of the direct action operation continue to multipy. Residents are mounting numerous claims for injuries and damage to property, which may add further millions to the original 18m bill for the police-led assault and clearance, which now appears to have been entirely futile.
Residents are urging supporters to attend the Inquiry which opens at 10 am on Tuesday (22 Nov) at the Basildon Centre, St Martins Square, Basildon SS14 1DL