A HIGH Court judge has retired to consider if traveller families who have been living next to the former illegal Dale Farm site since the October 2011 eviction will be moved on again.

Judge Mr Justice Clive Lewis said he would consult with colleagues before ruling if there is a case to answer.

The around 20 families are seeking permission for a planning appeal against Basildon Council enforcement orders to move them on by force.

Southend Standard:

Big decision: Judge Mr Justice Lewis

The travellers lodged the appeal after Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said they had no ground to contest the orders because they do not own the land they are pitched on in Oak Lane, Crays Hill.

It is now unclear when his decision will be made.

The families have lived in a "rat infested" lane next to the former Dale Farm traveller site for more than two years.

The case was brought by Mary Flynn, 77.

Southend Standard: The Dale Farm site today

Leaving?: Travellers pull off before the first eviction

They claim to have been living next to rats and raw sewage for 27 months, which was disturbed by the eviction.

But they still want to stay put amid claims they have nowhere else to go and cannot live in conventional housing.

The council has bailiffs on standby should the case be dismissed.

Southend Standard: Demolished pitches like this at Dale Farm are being used as business "head offices"

Wasteground: Dale Farm after the £7million operation

Southend Standard:

Roadside camping: Mary Flynn

Council leader Tony Ball said: “It should not take too long, but there are some other processes to go through, mainly due to the length of time.”

The council will have to do a further assessment of individuals’ personal circumstances before moving in.

Dale Farm has been left a rubble- strewn wasteground, contaminated with asbestos and other pollutants, since the operation in October 2011.

Southend Standard: Communities Secretary Eric Pickles

No appeal: Communities Secretery Eric Pickles

Travellers are appealing against a decision by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles not to allow an earlier appeal when Basildon Council served enforcement notices to move them on from Oak Lane next to the legal site where many people pulled up after the eviction.

Southend Standard: Tony Ball - new leader

Ready and waiting: Basildon Council leader Tony Ball

Campaigner Stuart Carruthers, who is helping them, said: “People are dying there and sickness in children is up, but there is nowhere else until sites are created.”

But Mr Ball questioned why, if conditions were so bad, no families had taken up the council’s offer of social housing.