British traveller camp braces for eviction after court loss

17th October 2011, Comments 0 comments

Residents at Britain's biggest illegal travellers' site said Monday they were going into "lockdown" after losing the final stage of their long battle against eviction by a local authority.

A judge at the Court of Appeal in London refused to give permission to travellers at the Dale Farm site east of London to make any further challenges to an eviction order obtained by Basildon Council.

The case involves more than 50 plots and up to 400 people living on the Dale Farm camp, who have won the support of high profile figures including the Oscar-winning actress Vanessa Redgrave.

"Today the Dale Farm community were rejected the right to appeal," said a spokeswoman for the support group Dale Farm Solidarity.

"In response to this news, residents of Dale Farm and their supporters reinforced the perimeter of the 50 plots, which house 83 families, and placed the entire site into lockdown in order to resist eviction."

Camp resident Kathleen McCarthy said: "The barricades are all that stand between us and homelessness now... We'll have to fight off the bailiffs."

Basildon Council sent bailiffs in to evict the ethnic Irish travellers last month, but residents first chained themselves to scaffolding and then launched a series of last ditch legal moves that prevented the site being cleared.

In his ruling on Monday, Judge Jeremy Sullivan said he had found no evidence likely to persuade appeal judges that the council's decision to enforce eviction notices was unlawful.

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.

© 2011 AFP

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