Fears renewed of another drawn-out travellers’ eviction

Basildon Recorder: Never-ending battle – the caravans in Oak Lane which have been ordered to leave Never-ending battle – the caravans in Oak Lane which have been ordered to leave

CONCERNS have been raised a second travellers’ eviction in Crays Hill could drag on for years after the latest orders to leave were challenged. Travellers in about 20 caravans parked at the roadside in Oak Lane have appealed against Basildon Council notices to leave the area by September 29. While the council is still hopeful this will go ahead, traveller campaigners argue they will win the appeal because the council has been unable to allocate other legal traveller sites in the borough. The legal battle has sparked fears locals could end up with a repeat of Dale Farm , which was only clearedin in October last year after a ten-year battle. David McPherson-Davis, a Ramsden Crays parish councillor, said the borough council should have devised a strategy for future traveller site provision as it has faced criticism from planning inspectors during previous appeals. He said: “This appeal is not going to reach a conclusion. The saga is just dragging on. “When we speak to residents they say it has been ten years and it could be another ten years the way the council is behaving. “People are getting really annoyed with it.” Stuart Hardwick-Carruthers, who is campaigning for the travellers, said the caravans pitched up at the roadside had been cleared from nearby Dale Farm and had nowhere else to go. Mr Hardwick-Carruthers, who submitted the appeal against the enforcement notices, said: “The council has tried to strike out the appeal saying it should not go ahead because they have no legal interest in the land and are not the owners. But we are saying there is no objection to them being there from the people on the legal site who own the land.” If the appeal does go ahead, the council does not want a public hearing as that would lead to more costs, with the eviction last year costing around £8million in taxpayers money. Council leader Tony Ball said the travellers were entitled to appeal, but said that would mean full details of who was living in the road would have to be released. Mr Ball suspects a number of the people in the lane were never occupants of Dale Farm and are new arrivals.

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