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London borough hails final injunction banning unlawful campsites

The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham has this week been granted a final injunction, which it thinks is the first of its kind in England and Wales, banning unlawful campsites from being set up as well as prohibiting fly-tipping.

The council said 133 sites would be protected across its area, including parks, opens spaces, schools and industrial sites, all of which had experienced unlawful encampments in recent years.

The order bans 23 named defendants – and “persons unknown” – from setting up unlawful encampments anywhere within the borough, with a power of arrest attached should the order be breached. The order is not time limited, and will remain in force until further order.

Any breach of the order is a contempt of court, punishable by a term of imprisonment.

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Barking and Dagenham said the final injunction would save time and expense in responding to unlawful encampment, “a process which previously involved excessive time and money, only for the campsite to move on to another location”.

It added that fly-tipping had cost it more than £550,000 between 2014 and 2016.

Mrs Justice Jefford had granted the council an interim injunction in March this year.

Cllr Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, said: “This ruling is a huge victory for the council, its residents and local businesses. We are the first local authority to get an injunction of this type and we will be able to take immediate action against any unlawful camps and fly-tipping, and those that persist in causing a nuisance to our residents, and costing the council money which could be better spent on frontline service.

“This order is not, and never has been, about preventing the travelling community from coming to the borough. The council is proud of the diversity within its area and is committed to promoting the rights of all individuals who choose to come to Barking and Dagenham.

“The decision to seek the injunction was not taken lightly, and is a proportionate last resort response to a small but significant group of individuals, who do not represent the traveller community as a whole, and who persist in engaging in criminal and anti-social behaviour.”

Cllr Rodwell added that the injunction was “a significant step towards stamping out the misery and mess that many residents and business experience when faced with unlawful encampments which engage in serial fly tipping and other unlawful behaviour.”

The council said it was working in partnership with the Metropolitan Police to ensure effective enforcement of the injunction.

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