Published Monday, 15th July 2019
The High Court has granted Reigate & Banstead Borough Council a protective injunction to prevent illegal encampments on land it owns.
The temporary injunction, secured on 1 July 2019, will remain in force until a full hearing for a permanent injunction in November 2019.
It covers 158 sites in the borough including parks, playgrounds, open spaces, agricultural land and car parks. The injunction forbids caravans, mobile homes, vans and lorries from coming onto the land and setting up camps or dumping waste on it.
Surge in encampments
The Council took the decision to apply for the injunction following a recent surge in encampments and fly-tipping. Between March and November 2018 the Council dealt with 22 unauthorised encampments on council-owned land, compared to seven over the same period in 2017. This year alone, it has already dealt with seven encampments.
The injunction order enables the Council move an encampment on much more quickly with assistance from the police through an accelerated High Court process, rather than applying for a court order each time. Breaching the injunction is a serious offence and could lead to arrest and even a custodial sentence.
Cllr Natalie Bramhall, Executive Member for Neighbourhood Services, said: “We work hard to manage unauthorised encampments when they occur, using our powers, in partnership with Surrey Police. Over the last year, the borough has experienced an increase in encampments, with certain sites particularly affected, and the clean-up afterwards is often costly. This injunction will protect our parks and open spaces and enable our residents to enjoy their greenspaces and local facilities.
“We will be able to deal with encampments through the courts much more quickly when they arise, rather than the Council and the police relying on their respective powers, which are not always as efficient at removing encampments as we and our communities would like. Based on the experience of other boroughs with this type of injunction, we hope that it will act as a deterrent to encampments happening in the first place.
“The Council is also undertaking work to better protect its land from illegal encampments.”
Details of the order are available on the Unauthorised encampments page of the Council’s website.
For those without internet access a hard copy of the order, map and claim forms, can be viewed at the Town Hall, Castelfield Road, Reigate RH2 0SH.