1. ITV Report

One year on: Dale Farm

A council leader who oversaw the clearance of Europe's largest illegal travellers site in Essex has defended the eviction despite concerns the site has become an eyesore.

Speaking a year on since the start of the £7 million clearance of Dale Farm in Crays Hill, Basildon Council leader Tony Ball said: "Doing nothing was simply not an option."

However, those neighbouring the six-acre site have expressed concern that many of those who lived on Dale Farm have simply moved to an adjacent site, exceeding its authorised capacity.

Scene from the Dale Farm eviction, as protesters clashed with police, a year ago. Credit: PA

This means a second bout of enforcement action to remove those living there illegally remains likely. There were violent scenes during the previous clearance operation as travellers and protesters clashed with bailiffs and police.

Council officers have been unable to begin work to restore the Dale Farm site to green belt land and it is regularly being used for flytipping. Meanwhile former Dale Farm residents have said they have nowhere else to go after seeing a bid for a new legal site at nearby Laindon rejected at a planning appeal shortly after the clearance.

Mr Ball said: "We are now one year on from the site clearance and I am still clear in my mind that what we did was the right thing. This was about upholding the law, something that every public body is expected to do and something that the majority of our residents supported."

Scene from the Dale Farm eviction, as protesters clashed with police, a year ago. Credit: PA

Many of the travellers moved just yards from Dale Farm to neighbouring Oak Lane. This site is authorised for some travellers plots but it is currently thought to be over-occupied by more than 100 people.

Mary Flynn, a former Dale Farm resident, said: "There are more travellers than there are sites, so where do they expect us to live? It's so hard to tell my children that we're never going to get to go home."

Mr Ball said he accepted people would not recognise the site as green belt but said this process had been complicated by the fact the land is still owned by the travellers. "The council simply does not have the legal right to enter the land," he said.

Protesters are planning to target the Department of Communities and Local Government offices in London on Friday to mark the first anniversary of the eviction.