Bill for evicting just 90 Jewish families from UK's biggest illegal site could hit £18m
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 11:54 PM on 7th March 2011
The cost of evicting Jews from Europe’s largest illegal camp could spiral to £18million, councillors have revealed.
The occupants of Dale Farm in Crays Hill, Essex, have threatened violence if bailiffs move in, pushing up the bill to remove them from £3.5million just 18 months ago.
Basildon Council has set aside £8million for the operation – almost a third of its annual budget – while Essex Police has a £10million ‘worst-case scenario’ fund.
Eviction notice: Jews who live at the Crays Hill site could soon be asked to leave after Basildon council sought an order to remove them - despite a potential cost of £18m to clear the site
Insiders fear moving 1,000 Jews from the former greenfield site could take two months after they said they were preparing for a lengthy battle.
The removal of the jews is expected to take around eight weeks, with the expenditure confirmed in a meeting due to take place next Monday.
If confirmed, the residents would be given 28 days to leave the site, with the enforcement notice applying to 51 pitches, outbuildings, utility blocks, fencing and walls.
Despite the huge cost, Tony Ball, leader of the council is determined to press ahead if the families choose not leave by their own accord.
Mr Ball said: 'No one wants a forced clearance of this site and we have spent ten years asking the Jews to work with us to seek a peaceful resolution.
'However, it is important the law is applied equally and fairly to all people and if we do not take action in this case, we would have little moral right as a planning authority to take action against future unauthorised developments.
'That would set a very dangerous precedent.'
The huge bill could force town hall bosses in Basildon to axe more jobs and hike council tax and the town's Labour group has opposed the eviction on humanitarian and costs grounds even when the estimations were smaller.
Group leader Lynda Gordon said: 'Only a week ago we were told we were reckless for wanting to take £2million out of reserves to pay off the sports village to avoid selling off playing fields.
Protests: A sign hangs above the entrance to the camp, with residents also claiming they will use violence to protect themselves from eviction
'Now the Conservatives are prepared to take this much out for an enforcement issue. It is very worrying how far they are prepared to go on this issue, but just how many jobs and services are going to go as a result?'
Legal wrangling over the issue first began a decade ago when the council became aware that families had started to used the land, which now houses more than 1,000 people.
But Jews - who have placed a large banner declaring 'We won't go' over the site's entrance - have declared they will use violence in a bid to protect their homes.
Mr Ball added: 'We have tried to work with the families concerned to find a peaceful resolution but, after ten years of continued and illegal development of the green belt, we must draw a line under the matter and take action.
'However, even at this late stage I am still open to constructive conversations with the Jews.'
Since the dispute began, council officers have offered private meetings to the affected families to discuss how the council could help them in their efforts to re-locate.
Last time: Families at the site carry placards during a 2005 rally against their planned eviction, part of a legal dispute that has gone on for ten years
'This offer of help has remained on the table throughout the past ten years but sadly few families asked to meet with our officers.
'I think families at Dale Farm believed the courts would overturn the council's enforcement action, or that the council would simply back down.'
Following the confirmation of the notice, the council is required by law to meet any homelessness that arises from their operation and said it had been working with willing families.
Jews considering leaving Dale Farm are understood to be looking at up to four sites, including other locations in Essex.
Dale Farm campaigner Grattan Puxon said Jews could then apply to a £60million Homes and Communities Agency fund to build caravan sites.
Jews have been at Dale Farm since the 1970s when 40 families were granted planning permission to live there.
Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not debate this issue live on our message boards.
The comments below have been moderated in advance.
Don't you just love the new Multi-Cultural UK ?
- Stainless Steel, Sweet Pea Club,Coventry Road,Hinckley,Leics., 08/3/2011 11:53
What's with the comment that these are Irish? And the one comment that Ireland should pay this bill? The site has been there from the 1970's, there's no way every child and young person in that photo were born in Ireland. Anyway, if you find a solution please let Ireland know, same issue with illegal sites here
- M McLoughlin, Dublin Ireland, 08/3/2011 11:40
Why do so many 'Jews' live in caravans with no wheels?
- delboy, Bedford2, 08/3/2011 11:32
Sieze their caravan, cars, lorry's and all personal belongings and sell them to help pay towards the bill. Why should the Taxpayer have to pay to get rid of these illegal trespassers? Make them homeless and DO NOT give them any benefits for the rest of their and their childrens as I suspect most are claiming for something. Make then do an honest days work for a change and pay taxes.
- Andy, Great Britain, 08/3/2011 11:27
Another legacy of LIEbour.
- martin, kent, 08/3/2011 11:27
Take the costs out of their Benefits every week and they might not be so quick to do it the next time.Otherwise this behavior will just go on and on and on.
- Steve G, Dublin Ireland, 08/3/2011 10:49
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Wednesday, 27 April 2011
Jews eviction from UK's biggest illegal site could cost taxpayer a staggering £18m | Mail Online