The total cost of evicting travellers from the illegal Dale Farm site came in significantly under budget at just over £7million, Basildon Council has revealed.

This included £4.8million costs to the council - £1.6million of which was spent dealing with injunctions and judicial reviews put forward by traveller supporters in the high court in September and October last year.

The authority had originally budgeted £8million for its part in the operation to clear illegal plots on the Crays Hill site last October.

A further £2.36million was spent on policing the operation - significantly under the £10million estimated as a worst case scenario cost.

Tony Ball, Basildon Council leader, said: “It gives me some degree of satisfaction that the operation was carried out under budget and this is thanks to the hard work and professionalism of council staff, our contractors and our partners in the fire, health and police services.

“I was however and remain annoyed that £1.6 million was added to our final bill by the delay and legal costs incurred between September and October when the travellers launched their last minute legal challenge against the Council’s right to clear Dale Farm.”