Barricades dismantled at UK's biggest illegal traveller camp

21st September 2011, Comments 0 comments

Residents at Britain's largest illegal traveller camp on Wednesday dismantled barriers at the site in line with a court order but insisted they would not let in bailiffs who are trying to evict them.

The move came after 200 Irish travellers and activists backing them at the Dale Farm site near the town of Basildon in southeast England won an 11th-hour court injunction on Monday to halt an imminent eviction.

The High Court in London ordered the clearing of the site be put on hold until Friday and required local authority Basildon Council to give a detailed outline of how they plan to clear the six-acre (2.4 hectare) camp.

It also ordered residents to allow access to the site and they agreed to take down the barricades, hastily erected using wooden planks, boards, tyres and barbed wire to prevent bailiffs from entering.

Supporters and travellers used power towels to remove the makeshift blockade at the main gate at around 12:45 pm (1145 GMT), sparking whoops and cheers inside the camp.

A stream of residents in caravans, who had moved to a neighbouring, legal site as bailiffs closed in earlier this week, drove back onto the farm.

Emergency vehicles were also given access but residents said any attempt by bailiffs to enter would be opposed.

Traveller Mary Slattery, 59, said the gates would be closed again early on Thursday.

"We're not taking any chances in there. (Residents) have until tomorrow morning to be back in here and if they're not here, these gates are locked shut," she said.

"It's open for emergencies, its not open for the bailiffs."

The council has fought a 10-year legal battle with the Irish travellers, who own the land but lack planning permission to build on it. It will attempt to overturn the injunction at a court hearing on Friday.

© 2011 AFP

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