England

Dale Farm: Residents move caravans back before court hearing

Travellers who moved their caravans away from the illegal part of the Dale Farm site in Essex have returned after the barricaded main gate was opened.

The residents won an injunction preventing site clearance on Monday.

A Royal Courts of Justice hearing is due at 11:30 BST on Friday and Basildon Council said if a decision went in its favour clearance could begin in hours.

Basildon Council gave a plot-by-plot breakdown of how it planned to clear the site to the residents on Wednesday.

A supporter of the Dale Farm residents, Jenny Clapham, described the mood among the travellers: "It's ups and downs, a real rollercoaster for everyone.

"Obviously it's nice to be back in what they feel are their homes and the kids are out playing again with each other but there is still a lot of fear.

"There's a camp of bailiffs surrounded by dogs right here and the constant threat they're going to come and rip you out of your home, I mean that's stressful for anyone so that in itself is very difficult.

"There's some optimism and some good news going round about the court tomorrow but we can't be certain."

A Basildon Council spokesman said there was no council presence on the site, it had complied with the conditions of the injunction and was awaiting the outcome of the hearing on Friday.

Council leader Tony Ball said previously he was "extremely disappointed" the travellers had returned and that much of the barricade at the gate remained.

"The fact that this main barricade has not yet been removed, and is unlikely to be, shows a blatant disregard for the law and the obligations of the injunction," he said.

"We must not forget that the travellers have used the law to their advantage at numerous times over the past decade and most recently on Monday, yet they seem to want to pick and choose what parts of the law they obey."

Image caption Travellers bought the scrapyard several years ago, but the council never gave planning permission for caravan plots on the extended site.

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