Britain's biggest traveller camp loses eviction battle

12th October 2011, Comments 0 comments

Residents at Britain's biggest illegal travellers' site lost a drawn-out battle to remain at the site after a high court judge ruled Wednesday that a local council could evict them.

The case affects 51 plots and up to 400 people living on the Dale Farm camp outside Basildon, east of London, who have won the support of high profile figures including the Oscar-winning actress Vanessa Redgrave.

Basildon Council sent bailiffs in to evict the ethnic Irish travellers last month but the residents launched a series of last ditch legal moves that prevented the sprawling site being cleared.

Judge Duncan Ouseley at the High Court in London dismissed the travellers' application for a judicial review, ruling that they had delayed too long in challenging the council's decision to take direct action against them.

It was not immediately clear when the council would now carry out the eviction order.

The travellers own the six-acre (2.4-hectare) site but lack planning permission to build on it and the council has been trying to kick them off the land for a decade.

But the travellers have attracted celebrity support while the case, coupled with a series of colourful television documentaries, has sparked debate about the treatment of the nomadic Irish traveller communities in Britain.

In September residents at the site and activists who support them faced off against the bailiffs, with some chaining themselves to scaffolding in a bid to stop it being cleared.

© 2011 AFP

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