A JUDGE has allowed travellers to remain on a couple’s land following a High Court showdown...for the time being.
Joyce Palmer of Oak Road, Crays Hill, has been revealed as the owner of most of the land where up to 20 caravans have been illegally parked in Oak Lane since the Dale Farm eviction in October 2011.
Yesterday, High Court judge Mr Justice Clive Lewis prevented Basildon Council from carrying out a second eviction at the site.
He said by not objecting in person, Mrs Palmer and husband Andrew Palmer, a greyhound trainer in his 50s, could have “implied” the illegal occupants were welcome.
The Palmers, who back on to Dale Farm and the neighbouring legal site, feared reprisals and had been assured by the council it would tackle the unauthorised encampment on their land which sprung up within days of the £7million clearance through the planning process.
This meant they did not instigate private proceedings themselves as is usual for landowners.
Speaking after the court case, Mr Palmer said: “If you speak to the council you will find that we have objected. There are emails to show this. We couldn’t give a solicitor an open cheque book so where this goes now you tell me.”
Council leader Tony Ball said after the judgement: “The council had two options. We could have taken legal action against the landowners or deal with it ourselves. Because we used their land we saw them as victims and it would not have been right to prosecute them. The landowners also felt too intimdated to do it themselves because they had endured ten years living next to the site and felt there was still a risk as they would still be left living next to the legal site.”
Mr Ball was surprised by the decision and any precedent it may have in future cases of illegal camping on private land.
He added: "This is a hugely disappointing decision and will create further delays and public expenditure.”
Quashing his decision, Mr Lewis wrote: “Mrs Flynn had stationed her caravan on the land in November 2011, some 8 months before the enforcement notice was issued. There was no evidence of any objection to her presence on the land over that length of time. Even if she had originally entered on the land as a trespasser, it may be that, depending on the facts, the owner of the land had acquiesced and impliedly granted her a licence to remain.”
*October 2011: Council used legal powers to use the Palmers’ field next to their home as a base for bailiffs to access Oak Lane during eviction.
*July 2012: Council served enforcement notices ordering the travellers to go, but the travellers appealed.
*September 2012: Mr Pickles threw out the appeal saying the families had no legal interest in the land and were not entitled to a public inquiry.
*late 2012: Travellers took it to the High Court.
*February 2014: Judge orders fresh public inquiry