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Dale Farm battle set to continue until 2013
THE battle to move on travellers, who are still living illegally in Crays Hill, is set to continue well in to 2013.
As the anniversary of the huge eviction dawns, the Echo can reveal Basildon Council will not vote until December about what action should be taken against those living in the 20 or so caravans which are just a stone’s throw away from Dale Farm.
A year on, and with Basildon taxpayers more than £7million worse off, the problem has certainly not gone away.
Many of the 80-odd families at Dale Farm did leave the area, while others pulled onto the unoccupied legal site next door.
However, people in the about 20 caravans nearby in Oak Lane insist there is nowhere to go - and are adamant they won’t budge again. The council served notices in the summer giving the occupants until the end of September to leave.
The Planning Inspectorate refused to let them appeal, but they still haven't moved. Basildon council leader Tony Ball revealed there are still many more months of legal action before all illegal occupants are gone and the site is restored to green belt.
He said: “The notices have expired, so we will soon be in a position to take action, but it will have to go before the development control committee to determine what action we take, a report will be prepared detailing people's personal circumstances and outlining the option show to proceed, and that will be before Christmas."
The Echo can also reveal the travellers are trying to take the Planning Inspectorate's decision not to allow them to appeal to the High Court in a bid to overturn it.
Mr Ball said: “This is with the treasury solicitors who looking at whether to allow it to go ahead or not, but in the meantime we are not injuncted against taking the action."
He said the council in the meantime has tried every angle to get the homeless families to accept bricks and mortar accommodation and although one or two nearly did, peer pressure from the rest of the community meant even they refused to take it up.
As for the current eyesore of Dale Farm ever resembling green fields, Mr Ball admitted there was a long way to go.
He said: "I would like to say that hopefully, in a year from now, people will see the site resembling something that they would think of as green belt."
This Friday, the actual anniversary, members of the Traveller Solidarity Network, formed in the wake of the eviction, will protest outside Eric Pickles’ Whitehall offices at the lack of legal sites.
Veteran traveller activist Grattan Puxon, now in his 70s, who helped the travellers throughout their campaign to stay will be there.
He said: "I just see the eviction as a huge waste of public money. “There has been no solution from anyone's point of view. One year on and it isn't solved, and it won't be until the families have a secure place to live.
This has not played out well for Basildon Council. They made a very bad choice to use force to remove people who just want to stay living in their community where they were established for more than ten years going to school and attending church."