A FRESH bid to get an officially-sanctioned traveller site in Pitsea could be launched within days, the public inquiry was told.

Candy Sheridan, a traveller and Lib Dem district councillor in North Norfolk, told the second day of the current Dale Farm inquiry the families needed another place to go.

The inquiry, at the Basildon Centre, revolves around on travellers' request for three years' temporary planning permission while they hunt for alternative sites.

In July, the council turned down an application for a five-plot site in Terminus Drive, Pitsea, following fierce opposition from neighbours.

Mrs Sheridan, a distant relative of the Dale Farm Sheridan clan, said: "I have a form here which will be submitted imminently to appeal Basildon Council's refusal of permission for an alternative site for the families, described as the most needy, at Terminus Drive."

Mrs Sheridan was criticised for not submitting the form earlier. The application was refused in July.

She said: "We legally have six months and have done nothing wrong. We have now arranged planning aid through an organisation in Cambridge."

The inquiry also heard Brian Cox, advocate for the travellers, who accepted Crays Hill villagers had legitimate concerns which were not based on racism. He agreed the Dale Farm site was too big.

"Ideally, plots should be 15 to 18 pitches, but other sites are being developed and we need to look at the interim," he said.

"Spending £2.9million on an eviction to leave them on the roadside is not an option."

However, campaigner Grattan Puxon described Dale Farm as a "model community", with support from extended relatives and community elements.

He said: "The council has done nothing to find alternative homes and even the Government has chased it to do an assessment of needs."

Billericay Tory MP John Baron will address the inquiry's final day today.

  • Travellers who have been illegally camped at the former Paragon Furniture Warehouse, in Cranes Farm Road, Basildon are expected to be evicted today.