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Court of Appeal ruling on illegal Traveller campsite bans welcomed by Barking and Dagenham Council

PUBLISHED: 12:00 23 January 2020

Travellers at the GLA site next to Ford in 2015. Picture: Paul Bennett

Travellers at the GLA site next to Ford in 2015. Picture: Paul Bennett

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A landmark Court of Appeal judgment has criticised the use of wide injunctions targeting Gypsy and Traveller camps.

Barking and Dagenham Council intervened in the case involving Bromley Council along with Merton, Sutton, Kingston, Redbridge, Harlow and Thurrock.

The Court of Appeal dismissed Bromley's appeal against a prior High Court decision to refuse its application for an injunction against "persons unknown" stopping on its land.

Judges held that "borough wide injunctions are inherently problematic" and a potential breach of the European Convention on Human Rights and the Equality Act.

They emphasised existing legislation and case law "make plain that the gypsy and traveller community have an enshrined freedom not to stay in one place but to move from one place to another".

Travellers pitched illegally on Abbey Green (opposite the old MFI site) in 2015. Paul BennettTravellers pitched illegally on Abbey Green (opposite the old MFI site) in 2015. Paul Bennett

A Barking and Dagenham Council spokesman welcomed the ruling for giving "crucial guidance" on their use.

He added the town hall took a different approach to Bromley by naming people involved in illegal camps.

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The council also gathered more than 3,000 pages of evidence of fly-tipping, criminal damage, public pooing and anti-social behaviour in contrast to Bromley's application, he said.

The intervention, which cost £6,000, arose from concern at the increase in borough wide injunctions sought against "persons unknown" only, attracting negative press from Gypsy and Traveller groups.

The council's legal eagles have brought money into its coffers for work done for other authorities on injunctions, further explaining the move.

"It was important for the court to be aware of the different approaches being taken. The appeal re-enforces the council's injunction.

"We will continue to engage with encampments, conduct welfare assessments and deal with each case on an individual basis," the spokesman said.

In May, organisation London Gypsies and Travellers (LGT) won a test case against Bromley in the High Court, having challenged its injunction application to stop "persons unknown" camping on 171 open spaces and car parks.

LGT chief executive, Debby Kennett, said: "We are extremely pleased with this result and proud to have been involved in such an important case which advances protection of the nomadic way of life in the UK.

"The judgment sets a high standard for councils seeking injunctions and stresses the need to put in place adequate and safe provision."

The case provides guidance for authorities seeking injunctions including that they should provide evidence showing what alternative housing or transit sites are available.


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