Reality check: Cost of Dale Farm eviction, £18m 0r £21.3m?

Tony Gosling tony at
Wed Oct 19 12:16:24 BST 2011

Reality check: how much is the Dale Farm eviction costing?

A massive police operation is underway to clear 
Dale Farm and reclaim the former scrapyard as 
green belt land. What is it costing the taxpayer? 
Polly Curtis, with your help, finds out. Get in 
touch below the line, email your views to 
polly.curtis at or tweet @pollycurtis.

Polly Curtis -, Wednesday 19 October 2011 10.33 BST

10.33am: Basildon council along with the police 
and a firm of bailiffs is in the process of 
evicting 86 families - about 400 people - from 
the 52 plots of land on Dale Farm. It is a 
coordinated and well planned operation, preceded 
by an aborted attempt last month when campaigners 
successfully won an injunction. How much is the 
taxpayer paying to clear Dale Farm?
The council says:

Basildon council says the official "worst case 
scenario" bill stands at £18m, including a £10m 
bill for the police operation and £8m from the council.

The bill breaks down into:

Constant and Co. – the bailiffs contracted by the council £2.2m
East of England Ambulance Service £200,000
Specialist Fire Safety Appliances £50,000
Temporary Accommodation £1m
Temporary Advice and Liaison facility £100,000
Additional Council resources to support the operation £300,000
Additional Council resources for post operation support £250,000
Operational Contingency £900,000

Total - £5m

An anonymous spokesman adds said in a statement:
Although the cost itemised above includes an 
operational contingency there is a possibility 
that operational expenditure may exceed the £5m 
indicated. In this instance it will be necessary 
for an additional budget to be agreed to ensure 
the safe and successful completion of the site 
clearance. It is therefore proposed that the 
Chief Executive and Leader of the Council be 
delegated authority to approve additional 
expenditure up to a maximum of £1.5m bringing 
estimated costs of site clearance to £6.5m. Added 
to the £1.5m post operation costs, that equals £8m.

A press officer also told me over the phone that 
the aborted clearance in September cost the 
council £400,000 after they had to "stand-down" 
an entire operation that had been set up. It's 
not clear where this figure factors into their overall costings.

Dale Farm Solidarity says:
The campaign group opposing the eviction makes 
the following estimation of the costs. Expected 
costs in early October (before the legal process 
was completed) are split as follows:
£12.5m for policing costs
£2.5m Council reserve to cover any overspend
£2.2m for the Bailiffs Constant and Co.
£1.5m site clearance costs
£1m for temporary accommodation
£550,000 for Council staffing
£436,000 for Council's legal costs
£250,000 for fire and ambulance services
£188,000 for legal aid
£67,000 for the Equality and Human Rights Commission's legal costs
£25,000 for courts

At £21.3m in total, that equates to £248,000 per evicted family.
It claims that £6 million of the costs have come 
from the Home Office, as well as £1.2 million 
from Eric Pickles' Department for Communities and Local Government.

The government is making UK taxpayers foot the 
bill for this unnecessary eviction, even during a 
time of massive government spending cuts.
Which is true?
The discrepancy between the two figures – the 
council's £18m and the campaigners' £22.3m seems 
to be mainly the result of differing accounts of 
how much the police operation will cost: the 
council says £10m; the Dale Farm claim £12.5m.
The campaign groups figures appear to be derived 
from this Telegraph story. It says:
The policing costs are being split between Essex 
police (£3m), Essex police authority (£2.5m), 
Basildon (£1.2m) and the Home Office (£5.8m).
A spokesperson for the police operation refused 
to give any details of the costing saying:
We won't be revealing the costs until after the 
operation is complete. We wouldn't even be estimating I'm afraid.
The Home Office says that they haven't yet given 
the council or force any money for the operation 
because such grants for one-off events are made 
retrospectively. To be eligible for a special 
police operation grant, such as those awarded in 
the instances of policing the G20, the operation 
would have to be considered a one-off event (the 
home office spokesman I considered suggested that 
Dale Farm would comply with this) but would also 
have to show that the operation cost more than 1% of their annual budget.
Essex Police's funding allocation for this year 
was £117,609,934 so the budget for Dale Farm is 
more than likely to amount to more than 1% of that budget.
It's also worth noting that the council stands to 
lose around £40,000 paid annually in council tax by the residents of Dale Farm.
The council has a budget of £8m for the 
evictions, the police operation is thought to be 
around £10m with some suggestions that it could stretch to over £12.5m.
The total bill is put at £18m by the council and 
£20.13m by the Dale Farm Solidarity campaign group.
But these figures are extremely provisional and 
don't include the costs of the delays to the 
evictions after the court action last month.
Do you have better figures on the costs or an 
understanding of the price of major police 
operations? What do you think of the price-tag on 
the evictions? Get in touch below the line, email 
your views to polly.curtis at or tweet @pollycurtis.

The Dale Farm Solidarity campaign's claim that 
residents at the site pay £40,000 worth of 
council tax is disputed by the council. A 
spokesman has just called to say that there are 
50 properties registered to pay council tax at 
the site. Two accounts are paid, 25 receive 
council tax benefits and 23 are currently 
outstanding. "We are pursuing them as we would 
anyone who hasn't paid their council tax," the spokesman said.
+44 (0)7786 952037
"Capitalism is institutionalised bribery."

"The maintenance of secrets acts like a psychic 
poison which alienates the possessor from the community" Carl Jung

Fear not therefore: for there is nothing covered 
that shall not be revealed; and nothing hid that 
shall not be made known. What I tell you in 
darkness, that speak ye in the light and what ye 
hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. Matthew 10:26-27  
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