Council debate: Petition for a borough-wide injunction against unauthorised encampments

Tonight, Ealing Council will debate the petition that over 1,500 residents have signed to get the local authority to prepare and apply for a borough-wide injunction.

UPDATE: Both Labour and Lib Dem councillors voted against the injunction


Content of petition:
To implement a borough-wide injunction on all public open spaces and other council-owned land to prevent unauthorised encampments occurring.
The time and financial costs spent in dealing with unauthorised encampments in the borough of Ealing is excessive, directing away valuable resources away from local authority service provision (see notes on costs incurred by Ealing Council). Cleaning up of the fly tips and human waste together with the anti-social behaviour and daily disruption to the community is vast.These costs do not include police and fire brigade resources spent in dealing with such encampments. These costs will only spiral into the millions if we don’t do something now. The non-financial impact on the community and immediate residents is immeasurable.The damage to our community is irreparable.

By implementing a borough-wide injunction (such as Essex, Enfield, Bromley, Elmbridge, Dagenham & Barking and Blackpool have done) will result in a preventative injunction, forbidding ‘named persons’ and ‘persons unknown’ from accessing any green spaces, most commonly parks and sports fields, public spaces including Council-managed to make an encampment. Making any incursion on any of the green spaces named in the injunction would thereby be a contempt of court. The advantage of this approach is that those seeking to occupy green spaces illegally: (i) cannot simply move to the next green space within that local authority area; (ii) are faced with a substantial deterrent in the form of fines, seizure of assets and imprisonment; and (iii) the protracted and expensive injunction procedure for each incursion is replaced by the swifter, more effective, contempt procedure.

Additionally, to increase the size of the legal traveller site in Bashley Road (or another site) to provide more pitches for travellers to reside as lack of available sites has seen an increase in unauthorised encampments across the country giving rise to low education attainment and poorer health.

Notes:

    • In the five years from summer 2012 to March 2018, there have been an estimated 140 reported unauthorised encampments in Ealing. Of those, approximately 80 have been on council land (including parks, streets and housing estates) with the remaining being on private land.
    • The period of June 2016 to March 2018 has seen a significant increase in the number of unauthorised encampments.  Over 70 of the 80 encampments on council land in the last five years, have occurred in the period June 2016-March 2018.  During that same period June 2016-March 2018, there were an estimated 30 further encampments on private land.
    • Costs from June 2016 – March 2018 totalled over £600k – including legal, clean up, officer time, repairs, etc.
    • Injunctions are time-limited therefore, the initial request is to seek an interim order with a further extension of five years.