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?
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.
Over recent years there have been reports of local authorities obtaining wide injunctions against unauthorised encampments. The latest example was Waltham Forest LBC v Persons Unknown where Lang J granted the final injunction on 12 January 2018. As usual, the defendants were not represented. TAT believe this type of injunction is potentially very challengeable on grounds including reasonableness and proportionality. We would be very interested in hearing from anyone adversely affected by such an injunction or any application for an injunction.
Total Attachments: 1borough wide injunctions attach (0 bytes)
R (Plant) -v- Somerset County Council and Taunton Deane Borough Council
This was a case where Community Law Partnership represented Mr Plant. The challenge to the decision to take eviction action against his unauthorised encampment was unsuccessful.
R (O’Brien & Anr) -v- Bristol City Council (Secretary of State for Transport intervening)  EWHC 2423 (Admin)
By Joe Markus of Garden Court North Chambers (who represented the O’Briens)
This case concerned the eviction of the O’Brien family from an unauthorised encampment off West Town Road under the Avonmouth Bridge, which carries the M5 motorway. The claim was issued in the High Court as a judicial review of the Council’s decision to seek possession due to the absence of legal aid for trespassers to defend possession proceedings brought against them.