Social Welfare Lawyers in the Centre of Birmingham

Gypsy and Traveller Cases

PRESS RELEASE – IS THIS THE END OF THE WIDE INJUNCTION?

Since 2015, 38 local authorities in England have obtained wide injunctions against Gypsies and Travellers effectively banning them from large swathes of land in the local authority area. We believe that most of the land identified would be the only land that Gypsies and Travellers would be likely to be able to stop on if they were resorting to the area or passing through the area.  Obviously this is in the context where there remains a totally inadequate supply of stopping places for Gypsies and Travellers who are exercising their nomadic way of life whether that be permanent pitches, temporary pitches or the use of land subject to ‘negotiated stopping agreements’. For many, many years Gypsy and Traveller organisations have argued that the answer to unauthorised encampments is the provision of sites and stopping places. If every local authority in England obtained such a wide injunction, where would Gypsies and Travellers go to?

Braintree DC v SSHCLG and Nicholls [2021] EWHC 651 (QB)

A Planning Inspector granted Mr Nicholls planning permission for a Travellers’ site. The local authority challenged this decision on the basis that the Inspector had misinterpreted the development plan and had failed to provide sufficient reasons for her decision. Timothy Mould QC (sitting as a Deputy Judge of the High Court) dismissed the appeal. If the local authority’s interpretation of their own policy had been allowed it would have meant that no Gypsy or Traveller site could ever have been given permission in the countryside. Their appeal against the costs award against them was also dismissed. See:  https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/QB/2021/651.html

Roadside Gypsies and Travellers During the Pandemic Part 3

Merritt v Thurrock Council & Midos Management Chelmsford County Court, 8 January 2021

Since soon after the beginning of the COVID 19 pandemic, letters from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Welsh Government have indicated that local authorities should attempt not to evict Gypsies and Travellers or should seek to identify alternative locations and should also look to provide services such as water, sanitation and refuse collection (see Issues Nos 50 and 51 of TAT News: http://www.communitylawpartnership.co.uk/noticeboard/links/tat-news).
The case of Merritt, albeit not concerning a Traveller, has effectively re-emphasised this message.

Into the Sea? Wide Injunctions

London Borough of Enfield v Persons Unknown [2020] EWHC 2717 (QB)

Ever since 2015 when Harlow Council obtained a wide injunction against ‘persons unknown’ camping on a large number of parcels of land, Gypsies, Travellers and their supporters have been concerned at the slow but sure spread of these injunctions. If every local authority in England obtained such an injunction where would Gypsies and Travellers who have no place to stop (due to the failure of the very same local authorities to provide pitches, both permanent and transit),  go? Into the sea?

The Enshrined Right to Travel : The Bromley Case

London Borough of Bromley v Persons Unknown, London Gypsies and Travellers and others [2020] EWCA Civ 12

Introduction

As many readers will know, London Borough of Bromley (‘Bromley’) appealed to the County Court against the refusal of “a de facto boroughwide prohibition of encampment and entry/occupation…in relation to all accessible public spaces in Bromley” ( in the words of Ms Ann-Leigh Mulcahy QC, sitting as a deputy judge of the High Court, when refusing the injunction). Some 38 similar injunctions have been granted by the High Court in recent years. In the Bromley case, London Gypsies and Travellers (LGT) intervened represented by Marc Willers QC and Tessa Buchanan of Garden Court Chambers and CLP (all acting substantially pro bono). This was, therefore, the first case involving such an injunction in which the Gypsy and Traveller community were represented before the High Court. As a result of the success of LGT in getting the wide injunction discharged (an injunction just against fly tipping and depositing waste was granted), this was also the first case to be argued out at appellate level. At Court of Appeal level Liberty and seven other local authorities also intervened.

URGENT PRESS RELEASE – Injunctions criticised in landmark ruling

A landmark Court of Appeal judgment released today has criticised the use of wide injunctions which target Gypsy and Traveller encampments. The Court of Appeal handed down a very significant judgment, dismissing an appeal by Bromley Council against the High Court’s decision to refuse the Council’s application for an injunction against “persons unknown” stopping on public land in the Borough.

London Borough of Bromley v Persons Unknown and London Gypsies & Travellers

London Borough of Bromley v Persons Unknown and London Gypsies & Travellers – [2019] EWHC 1675, 17 May 2019

The London Borough of Bromley (LBB) sought a final injunction against ‘persons unknown prohibiting unauthorised occupation and/or deposition of waste’ on 171 parcels of land owned or managed by them. The application for an injunction was clearly targeted wholly or mainly at Gypsies and Travellers. This was in a context where over 30 local authorities throughout England had already obtained such injunctions.

Swale Borough Council v Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government and Maughan [2018] EWHC 3402 (Admin)

The case involved an application for planning permission by Travellers where a temporary permission was granted by a Planning Inspector.  The Council took one ground of challenge against this decision on the basis that the Inspector had erred in law in that, when referring to “a substantial shortfall”, he failed to determine the amount of the shortfall in the 5 year supply of Traveller sites.

Guildford BC v Cooper & Brazil

This site is in the Green Belt and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).  A previous enforcement notice and planning appeal had been dismissed by the Secretary of State in 2014.  Guildford Borough Council (GBC) then declined to determine subsequent planning applications made in 2017 and 2018.  So there was nothing in the pipeline in terms of any outstanding application/appeal when the injunction application was heard earlier this year.

R (Ward & Ors) – v – LB Hillingdon and EHRC (Interveners)

[2019] EWCA Civ 692, 16 April 2019

Ms Ward and Mr McDonagh were Irish Travellers who applied for housing to LB Hillingdon (LBH) and were placed in the lowest band on the waiting list because they had not resided in the borough for 10 years. Mr Gullu was an asylum seeker who was also placed in the lowest band for the same reason. At first instance, Supperstone J held that LBH had indirectly discriminated against Ms Ward and Mr McDonagh but Mostyn J dismissed the calm by Mr Gullu. The Court of Appeal concluded that the 10 year residency requirement amounted to indirect discrimination against all 3 claimants and that LBH had failed to justify that indirect discrimination. However the Court of Appeal did not uphold Supperstone J’s finding that the 10 year residency requirement also amounted to a breach of Children Act 2004 s11.