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Judge grants council three-year injunction over unlawful encampments

Serious damage resulting from unauthorised traveller encampments has led the High Court to grant a three-year injunction to the London Borough of Redbridge.

In London Borough of Redbridge v Stokes & Ors [2018] EWHC 4076 (QB) Mrs Justice Farbey made the order against Martin Stokes and 99 other named defendants and persons unknown “forming or intending to form unauthorised encampments”.

Redbridge sought the original injunction under either section 187B of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 or section 1 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

This was granted by Yip J in June 2018, its first part applied to the 70 named members of the travelling community and the second to persons unknown, though this latter part was limited to 240 specific sites. The council now wanted both parts to cover the whole borough.

Farbey J said: “In summary, the claimant has pursued these proceedings because of numerous unlawful encampments in Redbridge.

“There has been associated fly-tipping and waste. Regrettably, some of those living in the encampments have been a nuisance to local residents and businesses. Some have caused or threatened violence.”

The judge said she had been given “a large number of statements from business owners and members of the public who have been threatened or put in danger…they present, in my judgment, a uniform and troubling picture”.

Redbridge enforcement officer Richard Bond told the court that since 1 January 2016, he had recorded 50 incidents of unlawful encampments by travellers in some cases with 20-30 vehicles. The cost of dealing with these was assessed at £350,839.16.

The judge noted: “The defendants defecate on sites. As most of these sites are either business premises or areas accessed by the public (such as schools or sports grounds), this has been deemed by the claimant's officials to be a risk to public health.”

Farbey J said she was mindful of the Article 8 right of travellers who may wish to live in Redbridge but said the council had “given the court significant reassurance that injunctive relief in the terms sought would be proportionate”.

She said it would be impractical to relate the order only to certain parts of the borough as “if forced out of selected areas only, the named defendants may simply relocate to other parts of the borough with shops and communal facilities.

“I take into account the gravity of past incursions and the very considerable damage done.”

Farbey J though declined to make an open-ended order and said: “The period of three years strikes the appropriate balance between the rights of the claimant and its residents, and the rights of the defendants.”

Mark Smulian