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Travellers reject supersite chance
TRAVELLERS have rejected the chance to create a supersized Dale Farm site and instead want the council to clean up the land.
Last week, the Echo exclusively revealed campaigners were looking to submit a planning application to create more than 100 pitches across the legal site and cleared illegal site to provide new homes and deal with pollution problems.
However, at a packed meeting at Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church, in London Road, Wickford, traveller families rejected the idea because of cost and now want Basildon Council to clean up the land, which is contaminated with asbestos and raw sewage.
Stuart Hardwicke-Carruthers, a campaigner for the families, said it would cost £50,000 just to draw up plans for the supersite, which would have seen an upgraded legal site of 40 pitches, 50 new ones at Dale Farm and 20 temporary pitches in Oak Lane, where caravans parked up are in the process of being moved off by the council.
Mr Hardwicke-Carruthers said: "Not enough people were willing to contribute.
“It now means that many of the travellers will simply give up Dale Farm and will call on the council to start proceedings to take over the land."
He added: “If the residents of the site are not willing to, then it will have to be up to the council to take over the land and sort it out.”
Council leader Tony Ball was invited to the meeting, but did not attend, while Dale Farm’s former biggest opponent Len Gridley, 54, from Oak Road, Crays Hill, did turn up as he is now working with the travellers to get the pollution problem dealt with.
Mr Gridley, said: “I don’t like the state the council has left the land.
“I thought it was worthwhile going to hear what was being said and don’t understand why no one from the council went. If I was OK to go, then anyone could.
What is the council afraid of?"
Mr Hardwicke-Carruthers said families facing eviction from the lane would continue to appeal, despite rejecting the chance to put in a new planning application.
He added: "The other issue is that there is nowhere for people living at Crays Hill to live or move to, and there are currently no viable options.”
Mr Ball said: “The land remains in the ownership of the travellers, so it is their responsibility to restore the land.
“But we still have the option to seize the site in order to recover costs towards the eviction.”
He said he was only invited to attend two days before the meeting and