Dale Farm eviction: Protesters removed from barricades
Protesters who barricaded themselves above the entrance to the Dale Farm travellers' site have been removed by police as bailiffs prepare to move in. Essex Police cleared the scaffolding structure so it could be dismantled and vehicles driven in by bailiffs to evict the travellers. Earlier in the day there were violent scenes, with one person Tasered and seven arrested as riot police moved in. Two caravans were set alight as officers and protesters clashed. The travellers lost a final legal attempt on Monday to stave off the evictions, from the UK's largest travellers' site, but protesters pledged they would fight on. Officers spent much of the afternoon removing people from the 40ft (12m) high scaffolding on the gate, with the help of a cherry picker. Police entered the back of the site at about 07:00 BST during discussions, described by supporters as a distraction, at the main gate. The BBC's Alex Dunlop spent the night in the camp and was there when police moved in earlier Electricity supplies were cut and protesters wearing masks said this had turned off crucial medical equipment belonging to elderly residents. One resident said she had been hit by a baton. The ambulance service confirmed a woman had been taken to hospital with a back injury. Two people were treated for smoke inhalation, one for a nose bleed and one for chest pains but there was no evidence it had been a heart attack, an ambulance spokesman said. An Essex Police spokeswoman said on Wednesday afternoon that the situation had "reached a considerably more calm state than officers were faced with this morning". The arrests were for offences including violent disorder and breach of the peace. Speaking at a press conference, Supt Trevor Roe said: "The tactic was to take early control of the site. We also needed to provide access for all emergency services should they need to enter and exit the site." Police said they had received reports that bottles, liquids and bricks had been stockpiled and this was a threat to the public, including bailiffs and council workers. Resident Kathleen McCarthy said: "Our entire community is being ripped apart by Basildon Council and the politicians in government." The eviction, which could cost up to £18m, marks the end of a 10-year battle between travellers, who bought a former scrapyard on green belt land in 2001 and established their caravans there, and the council. Over the past few days, travellers and their supporters have reinforced the perimeter of the 49 illegal plots at the site. Basildon Council leader Tony Ball condemned the violence between police and protesters. He said: "These are utterly disgraceful scenes and demonstrate the fact some so-called supporters were always intent on violence." He said that "alternative bricks and mortar accommodation" offered to the travellers had been turned down.