Harlow Council decide not to renew unlawful traveller encampment injunction

THE ERA of Harlow being a no-go zone for unlawful traveller encampments may be at an end after Harlow Council withdrew its application to renew a High Court injunction.

For nearly five years, an injunction has been in place preventing 35 named persons from setting up unauthorised encampments on any land in Harlow. It also protected 321 vulnerable sites including parks and playgrounds, previously occupied sites, highway verges, schools, cycle tracks and private land identified by Harlow Council and Essex County Council from persons unknown.

But now that may all be over.

Councillor Mark Ingall, Leader of Harlow Council, said: “On Friday (10 July 2020) following external legal advice and with great reluctance we withdrew the application to vary the injunction against unauthorised traveller encampments. We did this before the court made its decision. It was not a decision we took lightly, but there was a real risk that the application would be rejected, which would jeopardise any chance of a future injunction being granted. A major factor in our decision was the need to provide conclusive evidence of unauthorised traveller encampments being a current problem in the town and being an issue to the town in future.

“In some ways the effectiveness of our injunction, which has hugely reduced problems caused by unauthorised traveller encampments, has become a victim of its own success. The Harlow injunction has for five years led the way on managing unauthorised traveller encampments that cause nuisance and harm and that cannot be effectively dealt with through the existing powers available to councils.

“Given the changing legal situation with injunctions of this nature, we have always felt that our chances of getting an injunction extended might be limited, but the success of the 2015 and 2017 injunctions meant we had to try. The legal situation from June 2017 when we got the injunction extended for three years to now is very different.

“Our injunction has always been about upholding the law, responding and listening to the concerns of residents and businesses, and protecting the town’s green open spaces and business areas. It is not – and never has been – about persecuting any particular group of people or their way of life.

“We understand this news will disappoint and concern our residents and businesses. We are disappointed too. We don’t want to return to a situation the town faced between 2013 and 2015. Should those problems return, it will provide the evidence and justification for a fresh application and we will have no hesitation in returning swiftly to court.”

The existing injunction, granted on 14 June 2017, will expire at midnight on 14 July 2020.

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6 Responses to "Harlow Council decide not to renew unlawful traveller encampment injunction"

  1. apolitical2   July 13, 2020 at 5:57 pm

    The law is an ass. We must now accept travelers all over Harlow, wrecking land and causing eyesores just to get new evidence.

  2. jhumphreys84   July 13, 2020 at 7:50 pm

    The council seem to be taking a sensible approach to this situation given the legal constraints and is wise not to blow their any future chance of returning to these measures. The question that many should be asking is will the council and the police be increasing patrols should the encampments return? Not to say that there will be any trouble but more to show that they won’t stand for it and put residents minds at ease. As we’ve seen from many others just saying challenging them is more trouble than it’s worth, I hope that a strong presence will act as a good deterrent and be as good as action.

  3. MickyB77   July 14, 2020 at 6:02 am

    Clueless, Ingall has set himself and his nodding donkeys against the law abiding people of Harlow.

    Remember this when voting comes around.

  4. tenpin   July 14, 2020 at 8:52 am

    A member of The Harlow Alliance Party raised this issue with the Leader of the Council in a question submitted to the Cabinet meeting of the Council back in February. Cllr Ingall seemed quite confident that the legal action required to extend this injunction would not be compromised by the case involving Bromley Council. I wonder what has changed? He was asked if work to secure sites from vehicular access would be undertaken and he responded by saying that should (further) areas be deemed vulnerable the council would look at the possibility of protecting that piece of land. The Council should have taken such steps in the meantime to protect land which has been used by travellers in the recent past, we all know where they are and work could have been completed by now. I don’t agree with much of what MickyB77 but I do hope that if the worse comes to the worse, residents will remember this when voting comes around.

  5. tog147   July 14, 2020 at 10:56 am

    ‘A major factor in our decision was the need to provide conclusive evidence of unauthorised traveller encampments being a current problem in the town and being an issue to the town in future’. How can you provide evidence of current settlements in the town being a problem when there aren’t any because we are currently protected by the soon to expire legislation. Are we now going to have another 2 years of people being threatened, premises burgalled, and public spaces defecated in and ruined before the council crawls back to the courts to impose an injunction again? Cops will probably turn up and take the knee.

  6. MickyB77   July 14, 2020 at 1:30 pm

    Perhaps the nodding donkeys should contact John Clempner to help them out.
    It’s amazing that they’re quoting the problem as being, ” we don’t have any travellers in the town to activate the plan ” .
    Mind boggling.

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