Harlow travellers moved using police powers, despite injunction expiry

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Image caption,
An unauthorised camp site appeared on land near Harlow Leisurezone on Sunday

An unauthorised travellers' camp set-up after a High Court injunction was not renewed has been moved on by police.

Some 29 caravans moved into Second Avenue, in Harlow, Essex, on Sunday.

Police attended with Harlow Council officers and served a new enforcement notice on the travellers to leave.

The Labour-controlled council said it had attempted to extend a ruling protecting 320 open spaces in the town before it expired earlier this year, but had to withdraw its application.

The original injunction was granted to Harlow Council in an "unprecedented" ruling in 2015.

At the time, the Gypsy Council described the move as akin to "a police state".

Under the expired injunction, which was last extended in 2017, breaches would result in fines or custodial sentences for offenders.

'No provision'

The camp that appeared near Harlow Leisurezone on Sunday was described as "deeply worrying" by the town's Conservative MP Robert Halfon and on Monday he said the council's failure to gain the High Court extension had provided "the green light" for unauthorised camps.

Harlow Council leader Mark Ingall said they withdrew their court application when "it was clear that it would not be supported without sufficient evidence of a current issue".

"This will give us the evidence to support a fresh injunction application," he said.

Joseph Jones, director of the Gypsy Council, said: "If local councils provided permanent, transit or even negotiated stopping places, where our community could pay for the facilities provided, there would not be a problem.

"We seem to find the wrong place, but at no time has anyone pointed to or provided the right place."

Police used section 61 powers available under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 and the new encampment had fully moved on by Tuesday morning, Harlow Council said.

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