Harlow Council and Essex Police issue joint statement on ‘Traveller situation”

Politics / Thu 17th Jul 2014 at 04:15pm

THE current illegal encampment situation in Harlow is that there are 10 caravans on Katherines Way and 6 caravans on Coldharbour Road. There is one unoccupied caravan on Harlow Common.

Yesterday afternoon (16 July 2014) Harlow Council served an eviction notice (Final Order for Possession) to the remaining illegal encampment on Latton Common following a County Court hearing on the same day. These travellers moved on last night and are now occupying Third Avenue Katherine’s Way which is Essex County Council land.

Last Thursday (10 July 2014) the Police served a section 61 notice to the group of 16 travellers at the top of Latton Common. These travellers moved out of Harlow last Friday (11 July 2014).

On Tuesday (15 July 2014) Essex County Council served a court summons to the encampment on Coldharbour Road. A County Magistrates Court hearing is scheduled for today.

The Harlow Common encampment was served with a court summons by Harlow Council on 10 July 2014 They left Harlow on Sunday (13 July 2014). The Council continued with legal action and was in County Court on Tuesday (15 July 2014) and gained a final order for possession of the land. The Council has started proceedings to seize the caravan left on the land.

A co-ordinated approach to dealing with the issue continues to be in place between Harlow Council, Essex County Council and Essex Police.

Councillor Jon Clempner, Leader of Harlow Council, said: “Residents quite rightly expect us to take action to move illegal encampments on and this is what we are doing. I know residents are angry that some travellers continue to move from site to site and I share their frustration. It is important that we continue to issue court summons to make it clear that we won’t tolerate illegal encampments anywhere in Harlow.

“The priority remains to find a long-term solution to illegal encampments and we continue to work with Essex County Council, the Police and legal experts. This will take time and unfortunately there is no simple solution. I apologise to residents that I cannot say anymore at this point but we are exploring every legal avenue to find a solution.

“The Council is also writing to the Home Secretary and to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government seeking a review of the law. Action needs to be taken by Government to prevent travellers merely moving from one illegal encampment to another within communities. This issue is of national significance as many areas throughout the country experience similar difficulties to those currently being experienced in Harlow.”

An Essex Police spokesperson, said: “If an unauthorised traveller encampment occurs there are a number of parties who have a role to play in responding to the situation, including the landowner, the relevant local authority (for example in this scenario both Harlow Council and Essex County Council) and the police.

“When the correct circumstances and legal justification apply, Essex Police will and do invoke Section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 and other relevant legislation. Essex Police has invoked S61 a number of times in the Harlow area in recent weeks.

“We continue to work in partnership with Harlow Council, Essex County Council, local residents and the travelling community to deliver short, medium and longer term solutions to these issues.”

Essex County Councillor John Jowers, Cabinet Member for Libraries, Communities and Planning, said: “In partnership with Harlow Council, the police and the wider community, we will continue to use all the powers available to us to bring this situation to a quick and satisfactory conclusion.”

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