Britain's biggest traveller site wins legal reprieve

19th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

Residents battling eviction from Britain's biggest traveller site won a last-minute legal injunction Monday stopping authorities from removing structures at the site.

The decision by the High Court in London to delay any action until a further hearing on Friday came just hours after bailiffs surrounded the camp at Dale Farm in Basildon, southeast England, to start kicking out those inside.

Judge Anthony Edwards-Stuart ruled there was a realistic chance that measures taken to remove illegal structures at the site by the local council "may go further" than the terms of the enforcement notices.

"I do not see that any serious injustice will be caused if the actual implementation of any measures will not take place before the end of this week," Edwards-Stuart said.

Cheers erupted among the estimated 200 remaining travellers and protesters locked into the site after they heard of the last-gasp ruling.

A protester wearing a blue jumpsuit and a facemask stood on top of the scaffolding blocking the entrance making victory signs while music pumped out of a sound system.

Nora Sheridan, a middle-aged Irish traveller who has been on Dale Farm for 10 years, told AFP: "The judge said this is wrong so we are going back into court Friday.

"The eviction has stopped for today, I feel great. We might have a judge on our side now, it might get stopped altogether."

Basildon council has fought a 10-year battle with the Irish travellers over a lack of planning permission for the six-acre (2.4 hectare) site. It had said the clearance of the site would begin on Monday.

The travellers looked like they had lost their last legal barrier to eviction earlier Monday when a court dismissed a bid by an elderly traveller challenging the council's attempts.

© 2011 AFP

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