London Gypsies and Travellers has been successful in the first stage of its legal challenge to local authorities banning nomadic Gypsies and Travellers from camping on parks, commons and other open spaces.
More than 20 local authorities in England have obtained injunction orders giving them the powers to fine, imprison or seize the property of Gypsies and Travellers if they continue to camp on open land. LGT is opposing these actions in London, and on 26th November went to the High Court to try and stop the London Borough of Bromley preventing people from camping on 171 parcels of land in the borough.
London Gypsies and Travellers was granted permission to “intervene” in the case of Bromley London Borough Council v Persons Unknown. This means a full hearing will take place on 19th February at the Royal Courts of Justice. The decision at the High Court could have a bearing on whether other local authorities are granted similar injunction orders.
“We will be asking the court to consider the lawfulness and proportionality of the injunction sought by Bromley,” said Debby Kennett, LGT’s CEO. “We are very pleased to have legal representation from the Community Law Partnership and Garden Court Chambers.”
“We are aware that a number of local authorities are applying for or have obtained injunctions of a similar nature in their own areas. We are very concerned about the implications of such injunctions for nomadic Gypsies and Travellers. The injunctions against ‘persons unknown’ criminalise the traditional way of life for all Gypsies and Travellers living on roadside camps. There is a serious shortage of authorised sites and stopping places, meaning that many Gypsies and Travellers are forced onto unauthorised encampments with no other options.”
Main picture: LGT’s legal team at the Royal Courts of Justice, preparing for the 26th November hearing.