TRAVELLERS are preparing talk to Basildon Council officials in a series of meetings before evictions from the Dale Farmsite can start.

Representatives from the Crays Hill site are due to meet officials at the Basildon Centre on Friday.

Council leader Malcolm Buckley said the meeting was the result of an undertaking the council had given the Court of Appeal.

He explained: “It will involve negotiations which we hope will get people to move off peacefully, without the need for eviction.”

Travellers’ campaigner Grattan Puxon said: “We want to be given an alternative site before an eviction.

“We also want an eviction health and safety meeting with police, the fire service and Essex Racial Equality Council.”

Letters have been delivered to travellers, telling them they will be given 28-days formal notice before any eviction is attempted.

They are still hoping to appeal against the eviction and are seeking legal advice from a senior lawyer about their chances of taking their case to the country’s highest court of appeal, the House of Lords.

Mr Puxon admitted if the legal advice was not to go ahead with a further appeal, the main legal battle might finally be over.

He added: “We could go directly to the European Court of Human Rights, but there is a two-year wait.”

A group from the site recently went to Westminster for talks arranged by Lib Dem peer Lord Avebury to discuss their next move.

After the council won the right to evict, travellers have also applied to be given council homes, on the grounds they will be made homeless.

Mr Puxon added: “Sixty families have made individual applications, covering 80 adults and 105 children, asking for alternative mobile home accommodation.

“If the council offers bed and breakfast accommodation, or housing which is unsuitable for travellers, we could appeal this at county court, so this is another legal recourse open to us.”