The families living on an illegal traveller site in Essex have demanded £6 million to leave, said their representative.

Basildon Council revealed that in a series of meetings with Richard Sheridan, Gypsy Council president, who is leading the fight against evictions from Dale Farm in Basildon, he offered to move the families to either Birmingham or Scotland.

Leader of Basildon Council, Tony Ball said the price was “hugely above” market value.

After a 10-year fight to stay living on the land, the council told the travellers they would be evicted on September 19.

Half the properties on the site are legal but there are at least 80 that were built with no planning permission, housing around 400 people.

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Basildon council said they rejected the £6 million offer because it would allow the travellers to profit from breaking the law.

Ball said: “The council has consistently sought a peaceful resolution to the Dale Farm situation and done all it can to avoid a forced clearance of the site.

"I have always said that I would listen to any offers made by the travellers that would help to avoid the forced clearance.

"Traveller representatives offered to sell their land to the council hugely above market value in return for clearing the site.

"I felt I should consider any legal solutions to avoid a forced clearance.

"However, clearly it would have been unacceptable to enter any agreement where the travellers effectively profited from breaking the law and this was a step too far."