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UN intervenes over site evictions

14 May 09 10:43 GMT

The United Nations has intervened in a dispute over forced evictions of travellers at a site in Essex.

Travellers at Dale Farm have won the UN's support in their campaign to remain on the site.

A report by the UN's advisory group on forced evictions will go before the House of Lords on Thursday when a further appeal is being pursued.

Some of the 1,000 people at the farm have been there since the 1960s but half do not have planning permission.

Forced removal

The travellers are part of the Trans-European Roma Federation and the Dale Farm case has been highlighted by the UN in its report called "Forced Evictions - Towards Solutions" which focuses on what it calls vulnerable and marginalised groups around the world.

The chair of the UN advisory group, Yves Cabannes, told residents: "We have heard you say you want to stay where you are and we support you in that."

Dale Farm has been described as Europe's biggest travellers' site.

The people living there have been fighting forced removal for seven years.

Residents are now under notice to quit after the High Court recently gave Basildon Council permission to go ahead with removals.

Travellers living at Hovefields in Wickford, Essex, have also been served notice to quit.

A Basildon Council spokesman said it wanted to work with all parties to ensure an orderly withdrawal from the sites in question.

The UN advisory group is recommending Basildon Council grant planning permission where needed or offer alternative land for the travelling community.

Grattan Puxon, secretary of Dale Farm Housing Association, which represents the travellers, said: "This isn't just a recommendation for a freeze on the eviction of Dale Farm.

"The UN team would be there negotiating with Basildon Council in the coming months and if it came to an eviction there would be a UN observer team on the spot to record everything that happens."

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