New gypsy-site guidelines to prevent 'another dale farm'

Campaigners at Dale Farm in Essex. Photo: Lewis Whyld/PA Archive

Guidelines for councils to tackle illegal traveller sites have been issued by the Government, to try and prevent another incident like Dale Farm.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said councils must act more quickly to shut down unauthorised encampments.

New guidance from the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) outlines the legal powers councils and landowners have to remove unauthorised traveller sites, protest camps and squatters from both public and private land, as well as tackling the mess caused by the sites.

The DCLG said the move is aimed at preventing another incident like Dale Farm, where a long-running legal battle was fought before bailiffs moved in to evict travellers from the site in Essex.

At the peak of the operation, 308 officers were involved, including those brought in from the Metropolitan Police, Thames Valley, Avon and Somerset, Kent, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire under mutual aid arrangements.

The clearance, which resulted in violent clashes, followed a decade-long row over unauthorised plots on the six-acre site.

The total cost of the clearance was £7 million, with Basildon Council spending # 4.8 million.