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Bromley Council responds after landmark court judgement on 'Traveller ban'

PUBLISHED: 14:42 22 January 2020

The decision was made at the Court of Appeal. Picture: Lachlan Leeming

The decision was made at the Court of Appeal. Picture: Lachlan Leeming

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Bromley Council has indicated it won't appeal against a landmark judgement on its bid to ban Travellers from staying on public land in the borough.

Cllr Kate Lymer. Picture: Bromley CouncilCllr Kate Lymer. Picture: Bromley Council

The authority's case was dismissed by the Court of Appeal on Tuesday, January 21, with judges ruling that "borough wide injunctions are inherently problematic", in a result that could have ramifications for Travellers and councils across the country.

Bromley, backed by seven other local authorities, had appealed against a High Court ruling which overturned their move to ban encampments in the borough.

In a statement following Tuesday's judgement, the council confirmed it has no plans to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Councillor Kate Lymer, executive member for public protection and enforcement, said: "Nobody is above the law - there should be no doubt that the council will continue to protect all its parks and greenspaces using the range of legal measures available to it.

"The injunction prohibiting the depositing of waste remains in place. We note the court's decision and will need to take time to reflect on the implications of the judgement in the coming days.

"Whilst a longer term injunction has not been granted, land owners and local authorities continue to have a range of options to stop unauthorised encampments."

The council first successfully obtained a court injunction in August 2018 which banned "unauthorised encampments" on public land in the borough.

The council argued that this was a bid to prevent the "environmental harm and associated costs" of repairing damage, which the authority said had previously occurred at camp sites.

However, campaign group London Gypsies and Travellers successfully challenged the injunction in May last year, arguing that it unfairly targeted a section of the community.

It was instead ruled that the scope of the injunction would be vastly reduced, to include just fly-tipping or dumping waste.

London Gypsies and Travellers, which opposed the latest court action as well and provided legal representation "substantially pro bono", welcomed the decision on Tuesday.

"We are extremely pleased with this result and proud to have been involved in such an important case which advances the recognition and protection of the nomadic way of life in the UK," LGT chief executive Debby Kennett said.

"The judgement sets a high standard for councils seeking injunctions and stresses the need to put in place adequate and safe provision.

"We are keen to work with councils to explore alternatives to evictions and injunctions, such as negotiated stopping."

In their ruling, judges stated the move to ban encampments could "comprise a potential breach of both the European Convention on Human Rights and the Equality Act".

It was also ruled that existing legislation and case law "make plain that the Gypsy and Traveller community have an enshrined freedom not to stay in one place but to move from one place to another".

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