Court injunction to help protect Potters Bar after unauthorised encampments

PUBLISHED: 11:23 24 January 2019

Oakmere Park, Potters Bar. Picture: DANNY LOO

Oakmere Park, Potters Bar. Picture: DANNY LOO

©2018 Danny Loo Photography - all rights reserved

An injunction protecting 25 council-owned sites in Potters Bar and 108 across Hertsmere borough from unauthorised encampments has been extended by three years after a High Court of Justice hearing.

Since May last year, there have been two unauthorised encampments in Potters Bar and at least 16 on Hertsmere Borough Council land, many with large groups of between 50-75 people and 30-50 vehicles, mobile homes and caravans, as well as dogs.

The court heard human and animal excrement had been found following the encampments, along with domestic and industrial waste that had been dumped on the land, including building materials, glass and asbestos causing a health hazard and bringing significant costs to council taxpayers.

The injunction, granted on January 17, continues to ban any encampment and disposal of waste on the sites, which includes public parks, car parks and green spaces, unless planning permission has been obtained from the council or a planning inspector.

Councillor Seamus Quilty, who holds the environment and transport portfolio, said: “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 involved issuing a notice for people to leave before pursuing a removal order through the courts if they haven’t left, but this process takes time and can cause frustration for the community.

Cllr Quilty continued: “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.”

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