Families return to Dale Farm travellers' site

At least 10 families have moved back on to the Dale Farm travellers' site in Essex, days after bailiffs and council officials cleared the site.

The action to remove caravans and chalets from 51 unauthorised plots finished on Monday.

Basildon Council obtained an injunction to prevent reoccupation of the site.

However, caravans have returned to the half of the land that was cleared, with travellers saying they have been given nowhere else to go.

Basildon Council said it had re-served injunction papers after the families started to return.

'Continue enforcement'

Tony Ball, leader of the council, said officials had "reminded residents of the consequences of breaching" the injunction.

"These attempts to reoccupy the site are unacceptable and put them in contempt of court that could lead to a prison sentence," he said.

"I am very disappointed by these latest events, as Mr Justice McDuff was very clear that he would treat any breach of the injunction very seriously.

"The only way forward to the travellers in the long term is to obey the law, follow rules and regulations and co-operate with local councils like ours.

"If the law is being broken, we will continue to enforce, as we would with any member of the community and as the public expect us to do."

The existing legal site is also above its authorised capacity.

During the clearance operation, the council removed concrete and placed earth embankments across the six acre site in order to prevent travellers resettling on their old plots.

However, some travellers have parked alongside the plots.

One traveller, Daniel Sheridan, 67, said: "This isn't home anymore. It is cold and like living in a war zone.

"But we need to stay somewhere and can't be out on the road over winter."

Another, Patrick Egan, said he had been given permission to stay in his house on the illegal site.

He said: "I am allowed to stay but I don't want to. We have come back because we have nowhere to go.

Violent scenes

"We fully expect the council to serve notices on us, telling us to leave.

"If that happens, we will occupy car parks and roadsides in Basildon, anywhere that we can get access to.

"The council simply hasn't provided anywhere else for us to go."

Violence erupted when police and bailiffs moved on to Dale Farm on 19 October.

The clearance followed a decade-long row over unauthorised plots on the travellers' site.

At its peak, some 400 people lived on Dale Farm.

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