Gypsies and Travellers welcome “fantastic news” over Harlow injunction
News / Thu 16th Jul 2020 at 10:17am
REPRESENTATIVES of the Gypsy and Traveller community have described the news that Harlow Council has withdrawn their application for an injunction against unlawful encampments as “fantastic news”.
In 2015, Harlow District Council and Essex County Council were the first local authorities to obtain an injunction protecting vast swathes of land in their areas against unauthorised encampments.
Harlow District Council sought variation of the injunction to continue it beyond its final date at a virtual hearing before Mrs. Justice Tipples on Friday 10th July 2020.
Friends Families and Travellers instructed Chris Johnson of Community Law Partnership to put in written submissions before the hearing reports gypsy-traveller.org
Further details of the case can be found if you click on the link.
Commenting on the news, Chris Johnson, Partner at Community Law Partnership said:
“We trust that this will finally send a clear message to those local authorities who still think that it is a good idea to take wide injunction action against “persons unknown” regarding Gypsy and Traveller encampments that such injunctions should not be sought and that any applications for fresh injunctions or for renewed injunctions that are proceeding should be withdrawn.”
Adding to these remarks, Victoria Gilmore, Policy and Project Officer at Friends Families and Travellers said:
“Finally, common sense prevails! It’s shameful and inhumane to see councils ploughing huge sums of public money into legal action against Travellers when there is a simple solution – meet your planning duty to nomadic communities. It’s futile identifying places Travellers can’t stop if you’ve never taken the time to work out where they can stop. Everybody needs a place to live.”
Comments from, Sherrie Smith, Director of Gypsies and Travellers Essex
“Gypsies and Travellers across Essex and beyond welcome this fantastic news. Travelling in modern times is hard enough without these discriminatory injunctions. We are looking forward to a more welcoming environment across Essex. If Essex County Council as they say are looking to improve the welfare and outcomes of Gypsies and Travellers, they should look to establish adequate temporary and permanent site provision.”
Adding to this, Ilinca Diaconescu, Policy Officer at London Gypsy Travellers
“Over the last two years we have been working to challenge injunction orders granted with great speed, which create a domino effect of excluding Gypsies and Travellers from vast areas of London and other parts of the country. The Bromley case in which we were able to intervene successfully, advances the recognition and 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. We are pleased that the Harlow injunction application was withdrawn and we hope this sends a message about the much stricter requirements that councils have to meet when seeking such orders.”
As Victoria Gilmore says, at the heart of this issue is the fact that many councils around the country do not provide sufficient sites/spaces for the number of travellers based in their area. For over 40 years, despite the towns tight boundaries, there have been two sites in the District, one off Fernhill Lane and the other off Elizabeth Way, providing, I understand about 40 spaces for travellers.As such the town has done more than it's fair share to help reduce the need for travellers to pull up on green spaces around the town and as such you would think that this would lend support to the council's request for an injunction. What is looming on the horizon is Harlow Council's Local Plan, a change to the sustainable transport corridors will see Katherines Way removed from the Plan, to be replaced with a road (and tramway?) entering the town from the roundabout where Elizabeth Way and Fifth Avenue meet. This will be right across the traveller site at Elizabeth Way, which will have to be moved elsewhere. Will any Harlow Councillor be bold enough to say where a new site will be placed?, If there are no plans to do so, then the number of casual traveller visitors to the town is bound to increase. The developers looking to build on the fields adjacent to Katherines are looking to get on site as soon as possible, so this is an issue which both travellers and residents should be concerned about now.
I have a sneaking suspicion that a plot or two will be found in the Churchgate Street area.
Spot on tenpin.