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Request an Ealing borough-wide injunction to stop unauthorised encampments
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implement a borough-wide injunction on all public open spaces and other council-owned land to prevent unauthorised encampments occurring.

The time and financial costs spent in dealing with unauthorised encampments in the borough of Ealing is excessive, directing away valuable resources away from local authority service provision (see notes on costs incurred by Ealing Council). Cleaning up of the fly tips and human waste together with the anti-social behaviour and daily disruption to the community is vast.These costs do not include police and fire brigade resources spent in dealing with such encampments. These costs will only spiral into the millions if we don't do something now. The non-financial impact on the community and immediate residents is immeasurable.The damage to our community is irreparable.

By implementing a borough-wide injunction (such as Essex, Enfield, Bromley, Elmbridge, Dagenham & Barking and Blackpool have done) will result in a preventative injunction, forbidding 'named persons' and ‘persons unknown’ from accessing any green spaces, most commonly parks and sports fields, public spaces including Council-managed to make an encampment. Making any incursion on any of the green spaces named in the injunction would thereby be a contempt of court. The advantage of this approach is that those seeking to occupy green spaces illegally: (i) cannot simply move to the next green space within that local authority area; (ii) are faced with a substantial deterrent in the form of fines, seizure of assets and imprisonment; and (iii) the protracted and expensive injunction procedure for each incursion is replaced by the swifter, more effective, contempt procedure.

Additionally, to increase the size of the legal traveller site in Bashley Road (or another site) to provide more pitches for travellers to reside as lack of available sites has seen an increase in unauthorised encampments across the country giving rise to low education attainment and poorer health.

Notes:

  • In the five years from summer 2012 to March 2018, there have been an estimated 140 reported unauthorised encampments in Ealing. Of those, approximately 80 have been on council land (including parks, streets and housing estates) with the remaining being on private land.
  • The period of June 2016 to March 2018 has seen a significant increase in the number of unauthorised encampments.  Over 70 of the 80 encampments on council land in the last five years, have occurred in the period June 2016-March 2018.  During that same period June 2016-March 2018, there were an estimated 30 further encampments on private land.  
  • Costs from June 2016 - March 2018 totalled over £600k - including legal, clean up, officer time, repairs, etc.
  • Injunctions are time-limited therefore, the initial request is to seek an interim order with a further extension of five years.
Not Specified
Monday, 3 September 2018
Monday, 1 October 2018
Joanna Dabrowska
This petition currently has 1541 signatures in total.
Petition Signatories
1541 electronic signatures
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Thomas .
G A
Arnold Aarons
Fasiha Abbasi
Ktistina Abdat
Mary Aboukhalil
Henrietta Adams
Akira Adeniran-lowe
Andrew Aglionby
Sarah Aglionby
This petition has been reviewed and the following response has been offered:

 

 

The solution proposed in this petition to concerns by Ealing residents about the damage and cost created by unauthorised encampments is not a new one and is not appropriate or feasible for the borough at present.

 

Ealing has a robust and effective partnership process for dealing with unauthorised encampments on public land, one that recognises and respects the travelling community’s traditions and balances their rights with those of our residents to enjoy our public open spaces free from obstruction or fear of anti-social behaviour.

 

Like other local authorities, Ealing has experienced problematic encampments. These were mostly in 2016-2017, in which criminal and anti-social behaviour were reported. This included very large amounts of commercial fly-tipping, which were not part of the encampments themselves but were, in fact, illegal businesses connected with organised crime. The traveller community are a protected minority group and it is important to note that most travellers are peaceful and not engaged in criminal behaviour. However, the council works closely with the police, using all appropriate tools open to us to deal with the minority that do engage in criminal activity.

 

An injunction as outlined in the petition does not provide an appropriate solution at this stage for two reasons: Firstly, a borough wide injunction will not necessarily reduce the cost of dealing with problematic encampments. The ‘contempt procedure’ referred to in the petition would still need to be enforced and is actually very similar in terms of time and expense to the existing powers officers currently use.

 

Working with the police, Ealing officers have developed and introduced a strong working protocol with police for responding to encampments. This has been effective in reducing the number of encampments, the length of encampments and the cost and impact on the borough. Officers undertake immediate checks within the first hours of any encampment being reported and the time taken to move on unauthorised encampments has reduced significantly. The police have also responded swiftly and used their Section 61 powers to address and evict encampments where there is evidence of serious anti-social behaviour or criminal behaviour. It is therefore unlikely to be the case that using the contempt procedure, as proposed, would be significantly more cost effective for the borough than the council’s current approach. Furthermore, private land is not covered by a borough wide injunction and so some of the worst instances of incursions and fly-tips experienced in the borough would not be prevented by introducing this measure.

 

Secondly, there is not the pressing need that would justify the introduction of a borough wide injunction in Ealing at present. The number of unauthorised encampments in Ealing in 2018 has been lower than in 2016 and 2017. Additionally, encampments have generally been smaller in size. This is unlike the experience of the local authorities named in the petition. The nature and extent of the problems they experienced were different to Ealing as they had a higher number of large scale illegal encampments and found the police unwilling to use their powers, justifying their recourse to injunctive relief.

 

In applying prohibitive measures, such as a blanket injunction on travellers, we must be guided by the facts, not negative stereotypes. Applying for a borough wide injunction against persons unnamed could well see the council legally challenged and incur further costs, as the declining numbers of unauthorised encampments in Ealing doesn’t justify introducing this measure at this time. This is currently the case in Bromley, where the local authority has had a legal challenge mounted to the lawfulness and proportionality of its injunction. If that succeeded, then it could render all other injunctions unlawful and would not be wise for Ealing to pursue introducing this at this stage.

 

It is not possible to take a broad-brush approach such as implementing a borough wide injunction when the case for it doesn't currently exist.  Instead, all of the options available to us to secure sites assessed as vulnerable to damage and unfit for unauthorised encampments must be explored. I commend the constructive suggestion from Councillor Praveen Anand who represents Ealing Common ward. The Common had several unauthorised encampments over the past year and nearly half of those were problematic. 

 

To help prevent this, I am happy to agree with his suggestion and instruct officers to investigate the feasibility of a programme to place railings and ditches around Ealing Common. This one-off capital investment could save us time and considerable money in future and, as he says, provides a genuinely permanent resolution to this issue on Ealing Common. I welcome his offer of a contribution to the costs of this scheme by his ward forum, and hope that his ward colleagues will support him in his suggestion. The rest of the cost of this development could be met by the Civic Improvement Fund.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


DateUserDescriptionStatus
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 Page 1 of 156, items 1 to 10 of 1553.
24/12/2018 15:02 Keith Fraser Response PublishedResponse Published
24/12/2018 15:00 Keith Fraser Response PublishedResponse Published
24/12/2018 14:57 Keith Fraser Response ApprovedResponse Published
24/12/2018 14:56 Keith Fraser  Response Awaiting Approval
02/10/2018 03:03(System Event)Petition Closed (responder emailed requesting response)Response Pending
02/10/2018 03:03(System Event)Petition Closed (responder emailed requesting response)Response Pending
01/10/2018 19:47Unregistered UserPetition Signed: rees derekPetition Active
01/10/2018 17:53Unregistered UserPetition Signed: Mehibe EtgartPetition Active
01/10/2018 14:27Unregistered UserPetition Signed: Brian WestPetition Active
01/10/2018 13:08Unregistered UserPetition Signed: D RichardsonPetition Active

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