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I’m pleased to let Gazette readers know that Test Valley was recently granted a Final Injunction Order which prohibits the setup of any unauthorised traveller encampments in certain parts of the Borough* – complete with a power for the police to arrest anyone who doesn’t comply. I was in the High Court to listen to the judgment. His Honour Judge Dight found our evidence compelling and accepted the need for the Council to be able to protect our residents from these types of encampments.
It was the final hearing of the council’s application for an injunction after Judge Bird granted us an Interim Order in summer 2020. Our Interim Order has proved successful, though a High Court ruling in 2021 meant the power of arrest against ‘persons unknown’ was discharged. That position was clarified by the Supreme Court in November last year though, which allowed us to apply for this more comprehensive injunction.

We now have a five-year order with the power of arrest against named individuals and a one-year order with the power of arrest against persons unknown with the ability to apply to renew it. Following the Supreme Court judgment, such orders against persons unknown are limited to 12-months.

This is really great news and I’m grateful to Judge Dight for his decision, which protects those living in the injunction area from the appalling behaviour that we’ve had to experience over many years. The evidence we submitted to the Court included over 80 instances of unauthorised encampments with the vast majority of them including some form of fly-tipping, the dumping of human waste, damage, nuisance, animal cruelty or intimidating or antisocial behaviour – with every single encampment occupying land where they didn’t have permission to be. Meaning our parks, open spaces and sports facilities couldn’t be used for their primary purpose and leaving the council and ultimately the tax payer having to clean up the mess.
It’s regrettable that we had to take this action – but I’m clear that unauthorised encampments won’t be tolerated in Test Valley. The reinstatement of the power of arrest against ‘persons unknown’ means that in partnership with the police we can, once again, deal with any perpetrator very quickly without having to seek protracted court orders.
I’m sure this will also act as a deterrent from unauthorised encampments from coming to Test Valley in the first place** along with all of the other work we have done to better protect our open spaces.

Finally, I want to thank Test Valley staff from across the Council and the police who have worked tirelessly to gather and present the evidence to support our case.

*The order covers 17 square miles of the borough including all of Andover as well as the Alma Road car park in Romsey, Romsey Rapids and the Nursling and Rownhams Hall and Recreation Ground. All areas which have seen significant problems over many years.

**We do, of course, have a negotiated stopping policy which those who wish to stop as they pass through Test Valley can apply for in advance, by completing an application form and adhering to agreed behaviours.

Cllr. Phil North

Leader of the Test Valley Borough Council

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