Unauthorised encampments are now banned at five key council-owned sites in Rushcliffe after Rushcliffe Borough Council successfully secured a court injunction with power of arrest to prevent camps being set up at some of its strategic locations.
The authority presented a case before Nottinghamshire County Court on September 16 meaning that encampments cannot be established at Rushcliffe Arena, Gresham Park, The Hook and West Park in West Bridgford and at Rushcliffe Country Park in Ruddington.
It follows 70 unauthorised encampments on public and private land across the borough within the last five years. The five key sites were identified for the order due to the impact on residents using facilities at these locations and the operational effect on the sites with nine encampments during the same period costing the Council over £26,000 in clear up and enforcement costs.
Interim injunctions are now in place until September 30 and the authority will seek final orders at the same court next week. Anyone found setting up an encampment at one of the unauthorised sites during this time can now be arrested for breach of the order and if held in contempt of court, liable to imprisonment, fined or have assets seized in conjunction with community safety partners.
Leader of the Council Cllr Simon Robinson said: “This is a significant step, previously the Council faced delay in removing groups from its land.
“Seeking injunctions in this manner is required to protect our residents at some of our busiest public sites.
“Our options to take swift action have at times been restricted because powers of arrest or eviction are not always possible but these orders will act as a deterrent and allow us to respond more quickly and effectively with the support of our community safety partners.
“We have been careful the injunction considers any group’s rights to continue to enjoy any associated historic lifestyle.
“A Borough wide injunction was also considered but this does not give scope for groups to exercise these rights, which this authority is keen to protect and as was highlighted in a similar case at the High Court.
“The teams worked very well to secure this injunction and power of arrest and we’ll continue to explore ways in which we can increase our powers to protect our residents from camps at public sites.”