Wednesday, October 19, 2011
19 October 2011
Gypsies evicted from UK site by riot police
PHOTO Traveller's daughter swinging on scaffolding outside Dale Farm -
Police in riot gear began to clear Britain's biggest illegal travellers' site, heralding the end of a decade-long battle.
They broke down fences at the rear of the Dale Farm site in Essex while bailiffs began to smash low-rise brick walls with sledgehammers at its entrance, with diggers at the ready.
The eviction of about 400 travellers near Basildon marks the climax of one of Britain's most contentious and bitter planning rows in recent years.
Some residents and their supporters told the media they would resist eviction from the six-acre site "until the end".
A few protesters wearing balaclavas and hoods threw missiles, including rocks and liquids, at the police from behind flimsy wooden barricades and rubber rings while flames and thick smoke went up from a burning caravan.
Essex Police said taser guns had been used against two protesters and one person had been arrested so far.
Television footage showed one person being carried on a stretcher across a field by paramedics.
The site residents had won a temporary reprieve last month when the High Court issued an injunction stopping officials from clearing the land, but their battle came to an end when they lost a final legal hearing last week.
Travellers say the clearance is a breach of their human rights, targeting a vulnerable group whose choice of lifestyle does not fit in with the mainstream.
The local council argues it is a planning dispute, with the travellers breaking the law by illegally building on the green belt, the band of countryside around London intended to stop urban sprawl.
Among those who had supported the travellers had been actress Vanessa Redgrave and a United Nations' special rapporteur.
"The memory of Dale Farm will weigh heavily on Britain for generations - we are being dragged out of the only homes we have in this world," resident Kathleen McCarthy said in a statement from the Dale Farm Solidarity group.
Basildon council leader Tony Ball, told Sky News the council had tried to find the travellers alternative sites, but talks had been exhausted.
"I would much rather not be doing this," he said.
"But I am clear that by enforcing the law we are doing the right thing, and the majority of people in this country support what we are doing, and expect a public body to uphold the law."
Many locals had complained of litter and noise from the site
Posted by Morgan at 2:47 PM