Hertsmere Borough Council will take action on unauthorised traveller encampments after the High Court agreed to increase the term of an injunction.
The new powers will allow the council to continue to ban any encampment on 108 sites within Hertsmere, including public parks, car parks and green spaces, unless planning permission has been obtained from the council or granted by a planning inspector.
As well as covering residential encampments, the injunction also bans the disposal of waste on all 108 sites.
Since May 2018, there have been at least 16 unauthorised encampments on Hertsmere Borough Council-owned land, many with large groups of between 50 to 75 people and 30 to 50 vehicles, mobile homes and caravans, as well as a number of dogs.
The court heard that human and animal excrement had been found following the encampments, along with domestic and industrial waste that had been dumped on the land, bringing significant costs to local council tax payers.
Cllr Seamus Quilty, portfolio holder for environment and transport, said: “I am very pleased with the outcome of the hearing and that the court has extended this injunction for a significant length of time.
“The traveller encampments have presented the council, our partners and local communities with significant challenges, which we have been working hard to tackle.
“In response, we have taken a number of measures to better protect our parks and, with each encampment, have followed the correct legal procedures. This has entailed issuing a Notice of Direction for the travellers to leave before pursuing a Removal Order through the courts if they have not already left.
“However, this process can take time, which can cause frustration for the public, many of whom would like to see the situation resolved more quickly.
“Every encampment has also brought a significant workload for our officers who have had to conduct welfare assessments, serve notices, attend court hearings, conduct evictions and arrange for the clean-up of sites, all at significant financial cost to local taxpayers.
“The extension of this injunction will continue to enable us to respond more effectively and prevent these encampments in the first place because anyone who deliberately breaches the injunction will face potential arrest, committal to prison and an unlimited fine.
“I would like to thank all the council officers involved for the hard work and diligence required to bring our case to the High Court.”
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