A council faced with persistent unauthorised encampments on its open spaces is to seek pre-emptive injunctions for the most ‘sensitive sites,’ as a last resort to prevent re-occupation.
St Edmundsbury Borough Council has seen seven unauthorised traveller encampments, ranging from five to 19 caravans, in Bury St Edmunds in recent months.
A council spokeswoman said the encampments had been dispersed using the Suffolk Protocol for Managing Unauthorised Encampments, which balances the council’s duty to the welfare of the settled community and the gypsy and traveller community.
Today, St Edmundsbury’s Cabinet agreed to seek legal protection for ‘sensitive sites’.
Cllr Anne Gower, St Edmundsbury Cabinet member for Housing, said: “The protocol has been very effective in managing a cycle of occupation but it doesn’t cover the circumstances leading up to the occupation and, while we have been taking practical steps through means such as fencing and planting, these costly measures are not guarantees of success.
“The Government recently re-issued guidance, including protection of vulnerable sites by pre-emptive injunction. It is clear to us in the light of recent experiences that we have to follow this up.”
The estimated cost of seeking each injunction at the High Court is likely to be in the region of £2,000 to £3,000, irrespective of the outcome.
Injunctions will be sought for ‘sensitive sites’ where the council has already established it will not tolerate occupation, in accordance with the Suffolk protocol, and where there is a significant risk of re-occupation.