Essex councils apply to extend illegal Traveller site ban

A caravan at Dale Farm, 2010. The new rules mean councils will no longer have to provide sites for people evicted from such sites. Pic: The Advocacy Project

A BAN on unauthorised Traveller sites across an entire Essex district could be extended until 2021 after two local authorities made an application to the High Court.

Harlow Council and Essex County Council secured the original injunction in March 2015, banning 35 named individuals and persons unknown from setting up unauthorised camps on 321 "vulnerable" sites including parks, playgrounds, previously occupied sites, schools and private land. The injunction expires at midnight on 16 June.

The Gypsy Council criticised the original order, saying unauthorised encampments are down to councils failing to provide enough authorised sites.

The new application would extend the injunction until 15 June 2021, with a review in 2019, or for a period that the court sees fit.

It would also add five more named individuals to the order and include additional private land.

Breaching the injunction could result in a fine or imprisonment for contempt of court.

In a statement, Harlow Council said: "Back in March 2015, the councils joined forces and applied for an interim district-wide ban after the town experienced 109 different unauthorised encampments for nearly 18 months.

"At the time, a catalogue of concerns raised by residents and businesses over damage to public spaces, fly-tipping, human waste, anti-social behaviour and the daily disruption to people's lives and livelihoods caused by persistent encampments was reflected in the evidence presented at court.

"Harlow Council knows that unauthorised Traveller encampments impact on both local communities and the town's green open spaces. Therefore, it doesn't want to see a return of the situation."

The application will be heard at the High Court on 14 June.