Council secures injunction on illegal encampments in the borough

RUGBY Borough Council has secured new legal powers to stop illegal encampments on council land.

The council successfully applied for an injunction order at Nuneaton County Court on Friday (31 August), which came into force this week.

The injunction means individuals or groups who set up an unauthorised camp on council land can be immediately arrested for contempt of court - with sentences ranging from a fine to imprisonment.

A string of illegal encampments in the borough over the summer moved the council to seek the injunction.

The council has dealt with more than a dozen camps in 2018, with Whitehall Recreation Ground, Brownsover's Criss Cross Park and Whinfield Recreation Ground all being targeted.

On each occasion, the council has been forced to follow the legal process to move the camp off the land - first serving a notice on the camp of the council's intention to evict before securing a court date in order to apply to magistrates for an eviction order.

The council also has a legal duty to check the health, welfare and education of children at an encampment, while also complying fully with the Human Rights Act.

However, after Deputy District Judge Stephen Wrigley was satisfied both the frequency of the encampments, and the level of disruption and anti-social behaviour caused by the camps, warranted granting the injunction, the council can now rely on tougher legal powers.

Cllr Lisa Parker, Rugby Borough Council portfolio holder for environment and public realm, said: "We have been acutely aware of the disruption caused by illegal encampments in many parts of the borough over the summer, and I'd personally like to thank our residents who have shown patience and understanding in often testing circumstances.

"It's no easy task to secure an injunction such as this and many councils have failed to convince judges of the need to be granted these powers.

"It's a testament to the hard work and dedication of the council's legal officers and environmental protection team that we were able to put forward such a strong case in court."

To report an illegal encampment in the borough, visit www.rugby.gov.uk/illegalencampment or call (01788) 533533.
 

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