Published: Tuesday, 19th December 2017
The ban, secured at the High Court, is for encampments on Council owned land.
The Council's successful application for an interim injunction was made after four travellers' camps were illegally set up in its parks in just ten days during October and November.
The injunction which protects 203 parks and open spaces owned by the Council is to be in place until 19 March next year. Anyone who sets up a camp on them without permission will be committing contempt of court and will face arrest and possible confiscation of assets or imprisonment.
This is a proactive step by the council to prevent encampments in the first place. It means that the council will no longer have to take court action each time a camp is set up which lead to delays.
Increase in illegal encampments
The Royal Borough has seen a significant increase in the number of illegal encampments on its land in the past five years. Since April 2015 there has been 26 camps set up unlawfully with the majority over the summer months. The Council moved to seek the injunction as the frequency of the illegal camps has risen this year and are no longer contained to the summer months.
During just 10 days in October and November camps were set up in land in Footscray Road, The Course in Eltham, Coldharbour Playing Fields and Fairy Hill Park in Eltham.
The illegal encampments since April 2015 have left the Council with a bill of more than £400,000 to cover the cost of evictions, rubbish removal and ground restoration.
The Council's provision for the travelling community complies with national guidelines. The Council currently has an established site for travellers at the Thistlebrook site in Abbey Wood which can accommodate 60 homes such as trailers, caravans and mobile homes and all residents are required to pay council tax.
Copies of the injunction order are being posted up at entrances to Royal Borough of Greenwich parks and open spaces in compliance with the order.
'Pleased that we were successful in our application'
Cllr Jackie Smith, Cabinet member for Community Safety and Environment, said: "I am pleased that we were successful in our application for an interim borough wide injunction to protect Council parks and land against illegal encampments.
"There has been a catalogue of concerns raised by residents and businesses over damage to public spaces, fly-tipping and anti-social behaviour caused by persistent encampments. In addition to causing major damage to green spaces and wildlife the unlawful camps have required the Council to carry out costly clean-up operations amounting to thousands of pounds."