A long simmering standoff between a group of Irish travelers and the English local council that wants them to move is coming to a head.

This week a representative of the Irish travellers living at Britain’s largest illegal settlement asked for $9.8 million to move the families to another site, according to a report in the Irish Independent.

Richard Sheridan, president of the national Gypsy Council, held a series of meetings with the local council in which he offered to move the families to either Birmingham or Scotland, bur he claimed his offers were refused.

Local council leader Tony Ball said the eye-popping $9.8 million sum asked for was 'hugely above' the encampments market value.

Sheridan's group is fighting the removal of the irish traveler families from Dale Farm, near Basildon in Essex.

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The standoff has attracted celebrity attention. Actress Vanessa Redgrave offered to support the travelers by moving in with them - sparking calls for the actress to welcome the campers onto her own property if she was genuinely concerned by their plight.

Last week the Irish travellers lost a 10-year battle to remain at the site - they were told they would be evicted on September 19.

Although half the site is currently legal, more than 80 properties have no planning permission and it's believed that about 400 people are said to be living there illegally.

Joseph Jones, a colleague of Mr Sheridan's at the Gypsy Council, said the Irish traveler community is desperate to find any solution and it has launched a petition in 11 languages to 'get the world to tell the British Government to listen.'