Traveller encampment – Snakes Lane, Eastwood

The Council has been monitoring the traveller encampment off Snakes Lane, working closely with the Police.

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While the Police do have powers to direct trespassers to leave land under sections 61-62 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order1994, the considerations are different to the considerations the Council must take into account under section 77 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. At present the Police consider this is an issue for the Council to manage. 

Legal action by the Council is not straightforward in view of the Covid situation. We must have regard to Government Guidance to local authorities on Covid and Mitigating Impacts on Gypsy and Traveller Communities. The Guidance refers to the disproportionate effects of Covid on the Gypsy and Traveller communities and also to the Council’s public health responsibilities.  

Accordingly, it was important that these issues were properly considered as part of the decision-making process as to whether it was necessary and proportionate for the Council to direct the travellers to leave.  

The level of anti-social behaviour on the site, particularly the most recent incidents, is such that we believe it is now necessary and proportionate to take legal steps. The Council now intends to take legal action through the Magistrates' Court to secure possession.

The Council continues to keep the possibility of seeking a Borough-wide injunction to prevent unauthorised traveller encampments under rewview, but there was insufficient evidence to justify such action in summer 2019.

Since then, the Court of Appeal has given an important  judgement in the case of Bromley Borough Council v Others [2020] EWCA Civ 12 . The Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal by Bromley Council against the High Court’s decision to refuse the Council’s application for an injunction against persons unknown stopping on public land in the Borough. The Court of Appeal held that “borough wide injunctions are inherently problematic” and they “comprise a potential breach of both the [European] Convention [on Human Rights] and the Equality Act”.

Importantly, the Court of Appeal provided guidance to local authorities contemplating seeking a wide injunction; in particular that they should provide evidence showing what other suitable and secure alternative housing or transit sites were available. 

Update - 03.06.20:

On Monday 1 June 2020, notices were served on the travellers currently on the park directing them to leave within 24 hours. This is a necessary process prior to legal action. Not all the travellers complied with the notice and so proceedings have now been commenced in the Magistrates’ Court to secure possession of the land. When the hearing date is confirmed by the court this page will be updated.

Update - 04.06.20:

A hearing will take place in the Southend-on-Sea Magistrates’ Court on Monday 8 June 2020.

Update - 08.06.20:

At  a hearing held on Monday 8 June 2020, Southend-on-Sea Magistrates’ Court made an Order requiring the travellers to remove any vehicle and property from the land at Snakes Lane, along with any person residing there.

The Order has been served on the travellers this afternoon giving them 24 hours to leave. If they fail to do so then bailiffs will be engaged to enforce the Order.

Published: 1st June 2020

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