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High Court grants temporary injunction against illegal Traveller camps in Havering

PUBLISHED: 11:09 18 September 2019 | UPDATED: 11:12 18 September 2019

Police at the car park where travellers have forced the closure of Tesco at Gallows Corner. Picture: Ken Mears

Police at the car park where travellers have forced the closure of Tesco at Gallows Corner. Picture: Ken Mears

Archant

A temporary ban against unauthorised encampments and known individuals linked to anti-social behaviour on Traveller camps in Havering has been granted by the High Court.

Mr Justice Pepperall announced the decision on Havering Council's application to the High Court on Wednesday, September 11.

The order forbids people from setting up camp on land without permission from the land owner or Havering Council.

A power of arrest was granted with the injuction which means that if the named individuals in the injunction disobey the order, they may be held in contempt of court.

Offenders could be imprisoned, fined or have their assets seized.

Councillor Damian White, leader of Havering Council, said: "We have seen the issue of unauthorised traveller encampments continue within the borough on both public and privately owned land.

"We are pleased to have been granted this temporary injunction while we await a final decision and we will look to use this in the most effective way."

A map of the sites included in Havering's injunction against unauthorised encampments. Picture: Havering CouncilA map of the sites included in Havering's injunction against unauthorised encampments. Picture: Havering Council

An increasing number of unlawful camps in the borough led Havering Council to apply for the injunction.

Council officers identified 260 vulnerable sites across the borough including parks and opening spaces, and they deployed nearly 600 injunction notices to ensure that the ban would be legally enforceable for the next three years.

Cllr White added: "[The injunction] will allow us to prevent the unauthorised encampments on over 200 sites in the borough, including against known individuals."

"It will help us tackle the wider problem and activities that are often associated with the issue, such as fly tipping, littering and anti-social behaviour to help protect our residents and local businesses."

Speaking at a crime and disorder meeting at Havering Council, Robert Harper, Havering's interim enforcement group manager, told councillors about the lengthy process of the application.

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He said: "Every time we get these illegal incursions it creates an awful lot of disruption and turmoil within our communities and an awful lot of work for our officers.

"We presented [in court] on behalf of the borough, evidence going back two or three years.

"Over the last two months we had a seven week period in July and August where we suffered 14 unlawful encampments with quite a few of them in the Harold Hill area.

"They exploited the current situation and just hopped from one spot to another."

Mr Harper noted that there are different types of encampments with some of them linked to organised fly-tipping that can lead to "serious damage" for the environment and cost hundreds of thousands pounds for the authority to clear.

Havering's application to the court was delayed when it was revealed that Bromley Council's application for an injunction had failed.

A group of caravans gathered on the green in Gooshay Gardens in Romford. Picture: Charlie LouiseA group of caravans gathered on the green in Gooshay Gardens in Romford. Picture: Charlie Louise

As a result of a legal challenge from the campaign group London Gypsies and Travellers (LGT), the judge refused to grant the injunction and instead made a more limited injunction preventing people from fly-tipping.

Havering Council's application involved a lengthy process of posting 87 different documents for each of the 260 sites which amounts to more than 20,000 pieces of documentation.

Mr Harper told the councillors: "We would like to put on record our thanks to inspector Rob McElroy.

"Whenever there has been an opportunity for the police to step in they have been really robust about it and it has made a big difference.

"We're confident in the strength of our case."

A court date has yet to be set for the final hearing.

Visit havering.gov.uk/encampmentinjunction to find out more.

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