On Thursday 17th December 2020, a major case management hearing took place ahead of an upcoming High Court case on anti-Traveller wide injunctions, due to be held in January 2021.
Since 2015, councils have increasingly used injunctions to prevent Gypsies and Travellers from stopping on council-owned land. The majority of people who pull up on land in this way have nowhere else to go due to councils’ failure to identify land for sites and stopping places.
Despite this, anyone found to be breaking an anti-Traveller injunction faces criminal action. A landmark Court of Appeal ruling in the London Borough of Bromley V Persons Unknown and London Gypsies and Travellers case, denied Bromley Council’s injunction against “Persons Unknown” and set strict criteria for local authorities to meet before applying for these injunctions, such as providing transit sites.
After the Bromley ruling, Friends, Families and Travellers (FFT), the National Federation of Gypsy Liaison Groups (NFGLG) and London Gypsies and Travellers (LGT) with support from Moving for Change and the Baring Foundation instructed Community Law Partnership (CLP) to make submissions at hearings where councils were attempting to extend their injunctions. This led to Harlow, Enfield and Canterbury councils withdrawing their injunctions.
Following a significant judgment in the case of Canada Goose V Persons Unknown and PETA, Justice Nicklin found many councils with invalid injunctions as well as a number of issues on injunctions against ‘Persons Unknown’, warranting further investigation.
The case management hearing on 17th December came following an order from Justice Nicklin to more than 35 councils with wide injunctions to show they are complying with the Bromley ruling criteria.
It is now confirmed that of the original 38, only 16 local authorities will carry on through to the January hearing. These are:
Basingstoke and Dean
Nuneaton and Bedworth
Reigate and Banstead
Barking and Dagenham
In the January hearing, FFT, LGT and the NFGLG will act as ‘joint interveners’, giving evidence on the wider impact these injunctions have on Gypsies and Travellers.
Speaking about the drop in local authorities pursuing wide injunctions, Sarah Mann, Director at Friends, Families and Travellers:
“The significant drop in local authorities pursuing wide injunctions shows that local authorities can no longer ignore their statutory obligations. Using evictions as a quick fix to the Gypsy and Traveller accommodation issues is not enough – you cannot simply paper over the cracks and hope it all goes away.
Councils should immediately identify suitable land for nomadic families to stop on and accept that everyone deserves somewhere to call home.”