Essex

Dale Farm: Travellers' supporters hold protest march

Dale farm protesters
Image caption Protesters carried banners as they made their way from Wickford rail station to the site

Several hundred people have marched in Essex to protest against the planned evictions of more than 80 families from an illegal travellers' site.

Travellers, supporters and human rights groups chanted and waved flags on their way to Dale Farm, near Basildon.

Some of their banners read "No ethnic cleansing at Dale" and "Basildon Council shame on you".

They set off from Wickford railway station shortly after 13:00 BST to march to a rally at the site.

Richard Howitt, a local MEP and Labour spokesman on human rights, was among those making speeches.

Police escorted the march, which was noisy but non-violent, on its route way through Wickford town centre.

A number of travellers from Dale Farm took part in the three-mile march to voice anger over evictions due to begin on 19 September.

'Help travellers stay'

Shannon Egane, 18, who held a banner calling for "No Ethnic Cleansing At Dale Farm", said: "We're sending the message that all travellers aren't bad. We are friendly people.

"We are going to stand our ground and say this is our home."

Mary Lee, 19, said: "We need to stay. Help travellers stay. Help travellers have rights for once in their lives. Please save our homes.

"We don't want every right in the world, we just want the right to stay in our own homes. Please don't evict us."

Mary Nolan, 24, said: "It's not greenbelt land, it's a scrapyard and we made it our home."

When asked how the travellers would react when the evictions begin, she said: "We will go to the very end."

Basildon Council has told the residents it plans to begin clearing Dale Farm after a decade-long dispute over unauthorised properties at the former scrapyard.

Although half the site is legal, more than 80 properties have no planning permission and about 400 people are said to be living there illegally.

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