National news

Clearance of Dale Farm continues

Bailiffs are expected to begin removing homes from the UK's largest illegal travellers' site after police spent the night securing their position.

On Wednesday, riot-trained officers entered Dale Farm, Essex, at first light and quickly advanced, establishing a position which allowed them to begin removing the main scaffold gate.

By evening all protesters who had chained themselves to the gate had been removed. Essex Police made 23 arrests. There were sporadic, small-scale clashes between supporters and police during the evening.

Officers and Basildon Council-employed bailiffs remained on site and the gate is expected to be removed later. The number of supporters on site has dwindled from about 50 on Wednesday to just a handful.

About 50 travellers remained but many spent the night on the legal side of Dale Farm and others said they now wanted to leave as soon as the gate was opened.

However, resistance remains and some residents said they were determined to obstruct the eviction.

Kathleen McCarthy said she would be there until the end. She added: "I've seen residents with blood dripping down their face, and another who has been put in hospital by police batoning. The way in which the police are acting has shocked and outraged everyone here. We hope the world is watching."

There are 54 unauthorised plots on the illegal half of Dale Farm, although a court order dictates that six will remain. Other plots can be only partially removed.

The multimillion-pound clearance descended into violence on Wednesday, with two people Tasered and missiles thrown at police. An ambulance service spokesman said one resident had been taken to hospital and another was receiving treatment. Four others refused treatment.

Police said they had decided to lead the operation after it became clear that bailiffs would be met by violence.

< Back

Today's Features