Tower Hamlets July 20 Composite 600

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High Court to hold hearings on encampment injunctions this month

The High Court is this month due to hold hearings in relation to two high-profile injunctions against unauthorised encampments.

Next Friday (10 July) the Court will hear Harlow Council’s application for a revised injunction.

The current town-wide injunction was due to expire in June but was extended by Mr Justice Murray until 14 July 2020 after Chris Johnson of the Community Law Partnership, on behalf of Friends, Family and Travellers (FFT), requested time to review the injunction paperwork.

In a witness statement Julie Galvin, Legal Services Manager at Harlow, said that the council was “not seeking to maintain its borough-wide order, but a more limited order protecting areas, where there can be no justification for an unauthorised encampment to stop-up and where significant harm could be caused if encampments were to return.

“Further, in relation to the Enterprise Zone and Industrial Estates, there is still evidence that encampments have arrived at these locations since the injunction has been in place, however, they have been swiftly moved on when informed about the injunction.”

On 20 July meanwhile the High Court is scheduled to hold a second review of an injunction obtained by City of Wolverhampton Council in October 2018 and covering 60 sites across the city over a three-year period.

A first review hearing in December 2019 saw the terms of the injunction varied to cover 59 sites. Plans for development of a transit site were discussed. Planning permission was approved the following month.

City of Wolverhampton said the review hearing later this month “will determine how effective the injunction has been, whether it remains appropriate in its current form and the progress made on developing a transit site”.

Cllr Steve Evans, Cabinet Member for City Environment at City of Wolverhampton Council, said last month: “We are now able to return to the High Court with an update on our plans to develop the transit site which will offer a place for travellers to stay for short periods of time for a fee.

“Without the transit site and the continued injunction, we will face costs of between £250,000 to £300,000 a year to move on unauthorised camps.

“We hope the high court recognises the action we are taking to develop a transit site and approves our requests to continue to protect our most vulnerable open spaces.”

In a Court of Appeal ruling in January 2020 on the Bromley borough-wide injunction, Lord Justice Coulson gave support to the Wolverhampton approach, which identified particularly vulnerable sites but did not include all the sites owned by the council, saying it seemed to be a much more proportionate answer.

This was likely to be a better solution than a potentially discriminatory blanket ban.

The Court of Appeal judge added that the limitation of the Wolverhampton injunction to one year, after which there would be a review, also seemed to be sensible.

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