Council Applies for Injunction to Tackle Illegal Traveller Encampments
I'm pleased to confirm that Test Valley Borough Council has today issued an application to the High Court for an injunction order to prohibit the setup of unauthorised traveller encampments, following a spate of incidents last summer.
If our application is successful, the injunction should make it easier to disperse, and potentially prosecute encampments that set up on particular areas of land. The council is also asking the court to attach a power of arrest to any order made, which, if granted, would mean that those moving onto land, or setting up camp in breach of the order can be arrested by the police and taken to court. We've spent months working on the application, gathering evidence and studying cases in other parts of the country.
I am clear that we can’t have a repeat of last summer with travellers breaking onto land, causing anti-social behaviour, fly-tipping waste and leaving behind human excrement. We are, therefore, doing everything we can to limit that abhorrent behaviour. In other areas of the country, injunctions have also worked as a successful deterrent.
Following our Cabinet meeting tonight, we now also have a negotiated stopping policy, which is an essential part of the injunction. If travellers are prepared to play by the rules then we are prepared to allow sensibly sized encampments on appropriate council owned land (not near residential areas) if they wish to pass through Test Valley but I repeat that we can’t tolerate the abhorrent behaviour that we have experienced in recent years.
I'm immensely grateful for the hard work of Test Valley’s legal service in putting together the painstaking pieces of this application. The case involving the London Borough of Bromley back in January significantly tightened the criteria in which the court will grant such orders, so we’ve been working hard to compile further evidence to ensure that it is as comprehensive and sound as possible. It is now up to the court whether they grant the injunction or not. We have asked for the injunction to be heard as soon as possible and it is currently expected to take place in July.