Harlow Council has pulled its application for an injunction against illegal traveller encampments after it became clear the High Court bid would be unsuccessful.

The town’s proposal for a new injunction was withdrawn as the council lacked “conclusive evidence” of unauthorised traveller encampments being an issue.

As of midnight tonight (July 14) Harlow will not have an active injunction against illegal encampments for the first time since March 2015.

The leader of the council, Cllr Mark Ingall, said : “Following external legal advice and with great reluctance we withdrew the application to vary the injunction against unauthorised traveller encampments.

“We did this before the court made its decision. It was not a decision we took lightly, but there was a real risk that the application would be rejected, which would jeopardise any chance of a future injunction being granted. A major factor in our decision was the need to provide conclusive evidence of unauthorised traveller encampments being a current problem in the town and being an issue to the town in future.”

The existing injunction – in place since June 2017 – has become a “victim of its own success”, said Cllr Ingall.

“Harlow injunction has for five years led the way on managing unauthorised traveller encampments that cause nuisance and harm and that cannot be effectively dealt with through the existing powers available to councils”, he said.

“Given the changing legal situation with injunctions of this nature, we have always felt that our chances of getting an injunction extended might be limited, but the success of the 2015 and 2017 injunctions meant we had to try. The legal situation from June 2017 when we got the injunction extended for three years to now is very different.”

The Labour Bush Fair ward councillor has warned of a potential return “the situation the town faced between 2013 and 2015” – with numerous encampments across the town.

Cllr Ingall added: “Should those problems return, it will provide the evidence and justification for a fresh application and we will have no hesitation in returning swiftly to court.

“Our injunction has always been about upholding the law, responding and listening to the concerns of residents and businesses, and protecting the town’s green open spaces and business areas. It is not – and never has been – about persecuting any particular group of people or their way of life.

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