Robert Halfon’s comments about the illegal traveller encampment in YourHarlow are disgraceful. When he said, “This has only been possible because Harlow’s Labour Council made the decision not to try and renew the injunction”, fair minded people may well think he is attempting to mislead Harlow residents.
Harlow Council did try and renew the injunction. We went back to court to seek a second extension even though we were advised the chances of success were slim. Initial questioning made it clear that the court would only accept very recent evidence about traveller encampments causing harm. As our injunction had been successful, recent evidence of harm did not exist. We were advised by an external barrister, who has many years of experience and knowledge of these injunctions, that the best course of action would be to withdraw. Continuing would have seen us lose and made it harder to reapply for an injunction should the problems begin again.
Mr Halfon should be aware that nobody in Harlow is giving “the green light for unauthorised groups to trespass our town, once again”. After all this was made very clear in article here in Your Harlow:
Harlow Council decide not to renew unlawful traveller encampment injunction
Today decisive action was taken by the council and police working together, resulting in most caravans being moved on, tomorrow we will continue our action and take whatever steps we can to resolve this issue using the existing powers available.
There is an issue in law that makes it harder than it should be for Councils to move travellers off public land, we know Mr Halfon is aware of this as he admits he is working hard to strengthen the law. He would do well to concentrate on this rather than misrepresenting the actions of the Council.
Cllr Mark Ingall is Leader of Harlow Council.