In the wake of the successful Court of Appeal challenge to London councils’ “wide injunctions” preventing camping on open land, London Gypsies and Travellers’ work continues to bring individual councils round to a more humane approach. Ilinca Diaconescu, LGT’s Policy and Campaigns Coordinator, provides an update on important developments in Enfield.
At a High Court hearing on 28th September, Enfield Council withdrew its application to extend its injunction order – the first “wide” injunction against “persons unknown” granted to a London Borough – until October 2023.
The council sought to make some changes to its original injunction in light of the Court of Appeal judgment in the Bromley case, such as decreasing the number of sites covered and better defining “persons unknown” as those entering and/or occupying the land for residential purposes and/or for the purposes of fly-tipping or discarding waste.
London Gypsies and Travellers, working with the Community Law Partnership, made written submissions and attended the virtual hearing. LGT’s submissions pointed out that Enfield was still not meeting the Court of Appeal criteria: for example, it is still not providing transit sites or stopping places, although there are positive steps being taken by the council in this direction. Possible defendants were also unlikely to be able to attend hearings and put their case forward because there were no notices of applications on display at the relevant sites.
While we are supportive of the positive work that Enfield Council has been doing on meeting accommodation needs, including taking a more lenient approach on roadside camps, the fact remains that there is no provision of permanent or transit sites at the moment. Romany and Traveller communities have a long history in Enfield and following the closure of the council-run site in 1989 there was no attempt to make any alternative provision available.
The Judge discovered some problems with how the injunction granted in 2017 was originally publicised and he was concerned that the council may have been taking advantage in the last 3 years of an order which did not meet legal requirements.
A second hearing has been arranged for Friday 2nd October, when the council will have to bring evidence that such methods as posting the injunction papers on its website in 2017 was an effective way of letting people know about what was happening and enabled any Gypsies and Travellers who were affected to come forward as defendants. Additionally the judge wants to know whether, once the council realised that their original injunction was defective in terms of the principles laid down by the Court of Appeal in the Bromley case, they should have returned to the court to ask whether the injunction could continue or not. This question may apply to all councils who have obtained such injunctions.