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£18 million to evict 400 travellers

Tory-controlled Basildon Council would rather cut council jobs and services than let 400 travellers stay on a former scrap yard at Dale Farm.

That was the meaning of their vote on Monday night (March 14) to evict the travellers in an operation that will cost taxpayers a mammoth £18 million or £45,000 for each person on the site.

Basildon Council’s cost will be £8 million – a third of its annual budget. Campaigners say cuts in council services and jobs are inevitable as a result. Police costs could come to another £10 million.

Tories insisted that planning laws had to be upheld while the council has provided no alternative accommodation in a long-running dispute that reached the High Court. Dale Farm is the largest traveller community in Britain.

Several hundred members of the public – including travellers from the site – gathered to hear the debate. No date has been fixed for the eviction.

Dale Farm campaigners hope that a Council of Europe investigative group which visited Dale Farm last week will, like two previous UN bodies, urge that the eviction be postponed so that alternative caravan parks can be provided for those being made homeless.

15 March 2011

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