Travellers banned in landmark case

An injunction stopping 13 named travellers from returning to Blackpool has been granted by the High Court of Justice.

Thousands of travellers gathered on land between Blackpool and Poulton for a horse fair in August
Thousands of travellers gathered on land between Blackpool and Poulton for a horse fair in August

The travellers have been issued with an injunction pursuant to Section 1 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 and Section 187B of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

It is believed to be the first time in the country that a local authority has used the new Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 along with Section 187B of the Town and Country Planning Act to secure an injunction against illegal travellers.

The injunction, granted on Wednesday, also covers persons unknown entering or remaining without planning consent on seven parcels of land – Common Edge Road playing fields, Lawson Road playing fields, two sites covering Mereside Park, Layton Recreation Ground at Collingwood Avenue, Langdale Community Centre and South Shore car park off Yeadon Way.

Blackpool Council took out the injunction in the wake of 11 instances over the summer where large groups of travellers took up unauthorised encampments across the town.

The encampments saw up to 240 people and 80 caravans establish themselves on public and private land across Blackpool without consent or planning permission, also bringing with them accompanying vehicles, trailers and animals.

During their time on the sites, the travellers were responsible for a number of incidents which put Blackpool residents in harm’s way, including delaying an air ambulance from landing by 20 minutes while medics were attempting to help a man who had suffered a heart attack.

Other incidents or anti-social behaviour during the summer included human waste being left on playing fields, BB guns being fired at people and at properties, plastic waste being burned in public spaces and the driving of vehicles over public spaces, including playing fields.

When the Council used its legal powers to remove the travellers following an application to Magistrates Court, some of the groups simply set up another unauthorised encampment in a different area, and in some cases back on the original site which they had already been removed from.

Following the injunction, the 13 named travellers are now forbidden from setting up any unauthorised encampment within the borough of Blackpool.

Breaching the injunction could result in prison, a fine or a seizure of assets.

Coun Gillian Campbell, deputy leader of Blackpool Council, said: “This injunction should send a message out to anybody who is thinking of setting up an unauthorised encampment in Blackpool.

“Throughout the summer, we ended up removing this particular group of travellers from a number of areas only for them to move to another site.

“It was extremely frustrating for us but it was also very worrying for the residents who were being harassed by their anti-social behaviour.

“In one case, the actions of another group of unknown travellers could have killed somebody.

“I would like to hope that this injunction brings an end to their visits and sends a very strong message out that we will absolutely not stand for people illegally setting up camps and endangering Blackpool residents.

“It’s simply not on.”

The orders will now be placed on the seven aforementioned areas of land.