Friends Families and Travellers would like to congratulate London Gypsies & Travellers, Liberty, Marc Willers QC and Tessa Buchanan of Garden Court Chambers and Chris Johnson from the Community Law Partnership on yesterday’s fantastic win against Bromley Council.
Bromley Council appealed a High Court decision to refuse the council’s application for an injunction against “persons unknown” stopping on public land in the borough.
However, the Court of Appeal struck down the appeal, arguing that “the Gypsy and Traveller community have an enshrined freedom not to stay in one place but to move from one place to another”.
The court ruling goes on to state, “an injunction which prevents them from stopping at all in a defined part of the UK comprises a potential breach of both the [European] Convention [on Human Rights] and the Equality Act”.
The ruling could have serious implications for the ease with which councils have previously attained injunctions against Gypsies and Travellers. The Court emphasised that injunctions should only be a last resort, after all other viable options have been exhausted.
Making an example of Bromley Council’s failures, the ruling quotes the “lack of availability of alternative sites” as a factor, stating “[here] there is no transit site and there is no proposal for a transit site… Bromley is not supporting the provision of a transit site in Bromley”.
The knock-on effects on the Government’s proposal to criminalise trespass or increase police eviction powers remain to be seen.
Speaking on the Court of Appeal decision, Sarah Mann, Director at Friends Families and Travellers,
“It’s a brilliant vindication of the Gypsy and Traveller way of life. It has been enshrined in law for decades that Gypsies and Travellers have a right to live a nomadic lifestyle and councils have wilfully ignored their legal duty to find land for Gypsies and Travellers to live on. National government is also responsible for its utter failure to hold rogue councils to account. Providing appropriate accommodation should be a council’s number one priority, not criminalising and scapegoating entire communities.”
Notes for Editor
About Friends, Families and Travellers (FFT)
Friends, Families and Travellers is a leading national charity that works on behalf of all Gypsies, Roma and Travellers regardless of ethnicity, culture or background.
Sami McLaren, Communications Officer
Tel: 01273 234 038 Email: [email protected]
London Gypsies & Travellers. ‘Injunctions Criticised in Landmark Ruling’. January 2020. Visit page.