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Charity ‘disappointed’ after Redbridge Council wins permanent blanket ban on illegal Traveller camps

PUBLISHED: 12:40 26 November 2018

The site in Barkingside is just one of many traveller hotspots in the borough. Picture: Ellena Cruse

The site in Barkingside is just one of many traveller hotspots in the borough. Picture: Ellena Cruse

Archant

Redbridge Council has permanently won the legal powers to ban unlawful encampments in the borough following a High Court ruling on Friday (November 23).

The council put up notices about the ban. Picture: Ellena CruseThe council put up notices about the ban. Picture: Ellena Cruse

A previous High Court injunction was granted to stop travellers pulling up at 240 sites including parks open space and school grounds – but the order was initially only in place for three years.

As part of the permanent injunction 69 named defendants and “persons unknown” have been banned from setting up illegal campsites anywhere in Redbridge.

Any breach is a contempt of court, punishable by imprisonment, fines or asset seizure.

Council leader, Councillor Jas Athwal said: “I’m pleased with the ruling, which delivers on my pledge to secure a borough-wide ban on illegal encampments.

“It is no easy task to be granted an injunction and it’s a testament to the hard work and meticulous planning of everyone involved at the council that we could put forward such a strong case.

“The interim injunction has proved a huge success and is stopping incursions - before that ruling, unlawful encampments were causing huge disruption and costing the council hundreds of thousands of pounds in clean-up and legal costs.”

He added that at a time of significant government reductions in funding, the money which was used on cleaning up illegal camps can be spent on the services that matter most to residents.

The council decided to apply for an injunction after a string of 52 encampments cost the local authority £350,000 over two years.

On each occasion, the authority was forced to follow lengthy protocols and procedures to move the camp off the land.

David Landau of Redbridge Equalities said he appreciates that the disruption, distress and expense has been created by anti-social behaviour by a certain group or groups of trespassers, however, this should not reflect upon all Travellers.

“We are disappointed that this injunction apparently rules out neogitated stopping accords which have been so successful in Leeds where this approach has been pioneered and has saved that local authority money,” he said.

“It is unlikely that this approach would have been successful with this particular group but it could have been used with other Travellers in the future were it not a blanket injunction.”

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