MP Halfon calls for decisive action against unauthorised encampment in Harlow

News / Thu 6th Apr 2023 at 11:24am

MEMBER of Parliament for Harlow, Robert Halfon, has issued the following statement on the unauthorised encampment at the Helipad site in the town:

“Like many Harlow residents, I am disappointed that Harlow has, yet again, seen the arrival of an unauthorised encampment on the Helipad site overnight.

“Over many years, I have worked hard to end this awful blight on our town that causes misery for residents. This resulted in an injunction being introduced, but sadly the previous Labour Council did not choose to renew the injunction – which has now allowed such encampments to arrive.

“I have written urgently to the Chief Executive of Harlow Council and to the Chief Inspector of Harlow Police to express my concerns and call for immediate action to remove this encampment.

“Last year, I voted in Parliament for new and tougher powers to clamp down on the unauthorised encampments. These laws have:

Created a criminal offence targeting trespassers who intend to reside on any private or public land in vehicles without permission, and where they are causing significant disruption, distress or harm to local communities.

Imposed penalties, including imprisonment and fines of up to £2,500, for those who do not remove vehicles and leave land when asked to do so.

Toughened existing police powers to ensure trespassers leave land and do not return. Police have the power to seize vehicles and arrest offenders who return to such encampments after being moved on.

“These new powers come at a time when Essex Police is bigger than ever before, with 395 new officers across the county and 30 in Harlow.

“I will work hard with Harlow Council and the local police to ensure this latest unauthorised encampment is closed down and moved on as quickly as possible with minimal disruption to local people.”

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10 Comments for MP Halfon calls for decisive action against unauthorised encampment in Harlow:

gary roberts
2023-04-06 12:10:19

Is the editor of this organ repeating the same article? Because I am sure I read the same nonsense elsewhere today. Is Cllr. Swords mentoring Mr. Halfon now? But always remember he is working hard for the people of Harlow but as yet I cannot identify where. Perhaps he could write another article and tell me?

Mark Ingall
2023-04-06 12:22:13

Mr Halfon knows that the last Labour administration did seek to renew the injunction against illegal encampments. The courts made it clear that the attempt had absolutely no chance of suceeding following a similar case in Bromley. So to save Council tax payers money, the application was withdrawn. The question here must be is Mr Halfon deliberately attempting to deceive Harlow residents?

Nicholas Taylor
2023-04-06 12:52:48

Mark is spot on with his post. The Harlow Alliance Party are happy to give credit where credit is due, the Labour led Council took the advice of experts and saved the Council tax payers a fortune.

James Leppard
2023-04-06 13:01:03

The issue here is that the unauthorised encampment is a criminal offence under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 and as amended, strengthening police powers, since 28 June 2022. The law must be enforced with full vigor in the interests of the residents of Harlow.

Cllr James Griggs (Lab)
2023-04-06 16:28:39

James Leppard, I note you are not disagreeing with Mark or Nicholas, is that because you know what they are saying is true? Mr Halfon and some of your colleagues are whipping up the issue in a most unpleasant and wholly disingenuous manner. Will you kindly ask them to desist?

James Leppard
2023-04-06 16:43:25

James Griggs, I do not agree. This is a crime and must be dealt with according to the law. I have regular complaints from residents in my ward regarding serious anti-social behaviour incidents from the Traveller site at Fern Hill. The last thing we need is an unauthorised encampment by the Town Centre. I understand notices have been served and these people will be moving shortly.

David Forman
2023-04-06 23:03:47

Harlow Council were involved with Bromley Council's failed Court of Appeal case to dismiss an earlier High Court refusal to grant a wide area 'persons unknown' injunction. Bromley and Harlow Council knew on 21 January 2020 that getting another of this type of injunction was dead in the water. Judge Coulson hit the nail on the head in paragraph 100: "I consider that there is an inescapable tension between the article 8 rights of the Gypsy and Traveller community (as stated in such clear terms by the European caselaw summarised at paragraphs 44-48 above), and the common law of trespass. The obvious solution is the provision of more designated transit sites for the Gypsy and Traveller community. It is a striking feature of many of the documents that the court was shown that the absence of sufficient transit sites has repeatedly stymied any coherent attempt to deal with this issue." Also importantly, para 102: "It therefore follows that local authorities must regularly engage with the Gypsy and Traveller community. Through a process of dialogue and communication, and following the copious guidance set out above, it should be possible for the need for this kind of injunction to be avoided altogether. ‘Negotiated stopping’ is just one of many ways referred to in the English caselaw in which this might be achieved." See judgement for yourselves at: https://caselaw.nationalarchives.gov.uk/ewca/civ/2020/12#end-of-document

David Forman
2023-04-06 23:07:18

It is interesting to note that the Supreme Court heard an appeal from 10 local authorities regarding 'persons unknown' Traveller injunctions on 8/9 February this year. It takes between three and nine months for a judgement to be handed down. See more details at: https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/uksc-2022-0046.html

Kim Oconnor
2023-04-07 09:30:07

We have had traveller's for centuries, it's part of our history. With this council selling lands left right and centre, and developers destroying our country side. I don't like putting people in box's, there's good and bad in every body.

Cllr James Griggs
2023-04-07 12:41:18

Iain Lindsay, Vermin? Really? Your revolting language is disgusting, you should be ashamed of yourself. This comment has been reported as a hate crime.

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