By Rady Ananda
At least 86 families, comprising 400 people known as Travelers, or gypsies, today face armed eviction from their landing site in Crays Hill, Essex in the United Kingdom.
UPDATE: Dale Farm residents have won a last-gasp injunction restraining Basildon Council from clearing structures from the site pending a further hearing at London’s High Court on Friday. (Details below)
Owned by the residents and started in the 1970s, Dale Farm is the largest landing site in the UK for travelers who are predominantly Irish.
Professor Yves Cabannes, a former chairman of the now defunct UN Advisory Group on Forced Evictions, told The Telegraph that the council’s intentions to clear the travelers’ site broke three counts of international law by denying residents their rights to adequate housing, to be free from forcible eviction, and to be free from discrimination.
The Guardian reports that the government has blocked attempts by the United Nations to help negotiate a deal between Travelers and the Basildon council.
The dispute with Basildon District Council centers over housing development on an additional section in Dale Farm – a scrapyard, which did not have Council approval. The legal battle has gone on for ten years.
Riot vans are already in place, as media inside Dale Farm report that Travelers have piled rocks to throw at police.
The Telegraph is providing live updates here.
UPDATE from Telegraph: Dale Farm residents have won a last-gasp injunction restraining Basildon Council from clearing structures from the site pending a further hearing at London’s High Court on Friday.
Mr Justice Edwards-Stuart granted the order at London’s High Court on the basis that there was a realistic apprehension that the measures to be taken – while genuinely believed in by the council – “may go further” than the terms of the enforcement notices.
Having regard to the fact there is no fixed date for starting these – but they are imminent – I do not see that any serious injustice will be caused if the actual implementation of any measures will not take place before the end of this week.”
The order covers physical structures including cars and caravans and also prevents the cutting off of any utilities unless they pose a danger “to life and limb”.
The judge directed that Basildon should serve a schedule on the residents by noon tomorrow specifying what enforcement measures were proposed on a plot-by-plot basis with the residents responding by noon on Thursday.
He said he would consider whether there were any remaining issues justifying a further extension of the injunction at 11.30am on Friday.