Dale Farm eviction: Clearance to start 'sooner not later'

Protesters began gathering at Dale Farm ahead of the planned eviction in September
Image caption Protesters and campaigners gathered at Dale Farm in September

An Essex council planning to evict 85 families from the UK's largest illegal traveller site says it will not delay.

Tony Ball, leader of Basildon Council, said the operation would begin "when it is safe" and sooner rather than later.

The council said on Wednesday no steps would be taken to clear the site before Monday.

Traveller families, who are about 400-strong and include children as well as adults, have pledged to resist bailiffs and want to lodge another court appeal.

'Flooding back'

Mr Ball said it would take some time to put resources that had been "stood down" back in place to complete the clearance safely.

"We had stood significant resources down over the last three weeks in order to save taxpayers' money and it will now take some time to put them back in place," he said.

He said the council was mindful that the operation had to be carried out in a "safe and dignified manner".

Bailiffs are likely to have a particularly difficult task as the travellers and their supporters are threatening to resist, he said.

"I cannot say when the operation will take place, it will happen when it is safe to do so but it will be sooner rather than later.

"I now strongly urge the travellers not to return to the path of unlawful resistance.

"They have had their day in court - having sought the support of the law of the land they must now obey that same law."

Dale Farm Solidarity member Jake Fulton said: "People are already flooding back, both travellers and supporters.

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Media captionCampaigner Jake Fulton said the residents would continue to resist eviction

"We are expecting a big swell over the next couple of days and we'll be ready for when they come.

"Of course we are going to try and appeal this decision but we don't know what's going to happen there.

"We'll have to rely on the physical defences now that the legal ones have failed us."

The judge refused the travellers permission to appeal, but those in court said they would ask the Court of Appeal itself to hear their case.

On Wednesday night, Candy Sheridan, vice-chair of the Gypsy Council, said she expected lawyers to ask the Court of Appeal for permission to appeal within two days.

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