The UK High Court has refused to grant a final injunction which would prevent Travellers from moving onto public land in the London borough of Bromley.
Bromley obtained an injunction to stop people from occupying space on 171 plots of land throughout the borough in August 2018. This is a growing trend in England where 32 councils have sought injunctions against ‘persons unknown’ in an attempt to reduce the number of unauthorized encampments. These injunctions give the council the power to fine, imprison or seize the property of members of the Travelling community if they continue to camp on public land.
London Gypsies and Travelers (LGT), which works against social exclusion and discrimination, challenged the injunction on the basis that it was disproportionate and discriminated against members of the Travelling community. LGT have stated that a serious shortage of authorised sites had forced Travellers on to unauthorised encampments and that the injunction effectively criminalised the way of life of a whole group of people recognised as ethnic minorities under the Equality Act 2010.
The High Court expressed concern at impact these injunctions had on the ability of Travellers to pursue their traditional way of life, particularly given the shortage of sites. It also voiced doubt as to the correctness of injunctions based on section 187B of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. As a result it refused the 5 year injunction, instead granting a more limited injunction preventing people from fly-tipping, depositing substantial amounts of waste, or entering parks and car parks in vehicles for the purposes of waste disposal or fly-tipping.
Click here for the press release from Community Law Partnership which acted for pro bono for LGT.