Harlow Council has applied for a revised high court injunction to protect open spaces, cycle tracks, business and economic areas from unauthorised traveller encampments.
Harlow’s existing injunction, which was extended three years ago, expires at midnight on 14 June 2020.
The application to vary the injunction has been jointly submitted with Essex County Council with the injunction hearing taking place on Friday, 12 June 2020.
High court injunctions banning the setting-up of unauthorised traveller encampments have been in place in Harlow since March 2015.
Compared to five years ago the legal situation has changed. There are more injunctions in place across the country and legal challenges have taken place with some wide-ranging injunctions being refused. Rulings have also be made by the court of appeal as to the limited situations when wide-ranging injunctions will be appropriate.
It is clear from expert legal advice that the councils would not get the current district-wide injunction extended without more extensive evidence of a continuing threat of nuisance, criminality, and harm to Harlow on the same scale experienced between 2013 and 2015. Therefore, a modified version of the injunction is being sought that has been guided by the recent evidence. This decision has been made following advice from legal experts who have helped us get injunctions over the last five years.
If the new injunction is approved it will prevent the setting-up of unauthorised encampments on the following identified sites in Harlow:
- Enterprise Zones - due to disruption to local businesses and Harlow’s economy.
- Industrial estates - due to disruption to local businesses and Harlow’s economy.
- The entire cycle track network - due to possible future investment and increased use during and after lockdown, social distancing concerns and the evidence that cycle tracks have been repeatedly encamped upon.
- Harlow Town Football Club - due to it being a COVID-19 Test Centre site.
- Harlow Common and Latton Common - due to horse welfare and social distancing concerns.
Applications to vary the injunction in future can be made to protect additional sites if necessary.
Applying for the injunction is about upholding the law, responding and listening to the concerns of residents and businesses, balancing competing rights and interests, and protecting the town’s green open spaces and business areas. It is not – and never has been – about persecuting any particular group of people or their way of life.
Harlow has the highest number of authorised public pitches in Essex located across two permanent traveller sites in the town. We will continue to work with Essex County Council to ensure that future planning obligations are met and that the existing permanent public traveller sites are well managed and help meet future demand for pitches.