Basildon's travellers and Gypsies at High Court hearing

Massimo A. Allamandola suburbanstudio at
Tue Feb 12 14:11:53 GMT 2008

Traveller test case starts at High Court

Susanna Gillman, PlanningResource, 12 February 2008

More than 100 Irish traveller families living on sites in Basildon have launched a test case at the High Court this week to stop the local council evicting them.

The challenge is being watched closely by other local authorities throughout the country, faced with the problem of unauthorised development by travellers and Gypsies.

More than 80 families from the largest illegal traveller site in the UK at Dale Farm, Crays Hill, and 15 families from Hovefields, Wickford, face eviction following a six-year battle with Basildon District Council over their illegal occupation of the sites.

They are asking High Court judge Mr Justice Andrew Collins to quash the council’s decision to take ‘direct action’ to evict them, claiming it is unlawful because there is a clear unmet need for traveller sites in its area.
They say it will be 2011 before the council will make lawful traveller sites available to them. In the meantime, they argue that they will have nowhere else to go.

Alex Offer, who represents 26 of the travellers at Dale Farm, said that his clients accepted that ultimately they may not be able to stay on the site but they want the council to provide them with a temporary site until a lawful permanent site can be found.

The judge will reserve his decision on the hearing and give a written judgment, unlikely to be issued before April.

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