Last week, the High Court granted us an injunction to prohibit the set up of unauthorised traveller encampments in and around Andover.

At our request, the judge also agreed to attach a power of arrest to the injunction, which means those that are in breach of the order can be detained by police and taken to court.

We simply cannot endure another summer like last year with travellers breaking onto land, behaving appallingly and leaving behind a trail of fly-tipped waste and human excrement.

Whilst it’s vitally important we don’t cast aspersions on all travellers. Our experience of the vast majority that have pitched up in the north of the borough over the last couple of years has led us to this action.

In his remarks, the Judge referred to ‘deeply unpleasant antisocial behaviour’, ‘serious criminal damage’ and ‘real risks to the health of those who live close by’, meaning human faeces left next to residential areas.

Despite this, some people will rightly ask what we’re doing for those travellers who want to maintain their legitimate way of life and go about their business lawfully. A key part of our arrangement is to operate a negotiated stopping policy. If travellers are prepared to play by the rules and behave appropriately then we are prepared to allow sensibly sized encampments on appropriate council owned land (not near residential areas) if they wish to pass through Test Valley. This must be authorised and agreed in advance.

At the time of writing, we’re waiting for the ‘sealed order’ from the court, which should arrive very soon, to enable the injunction to be served and for it to be enforced. I’ve got a meeting with the Chief Inspector of Test Valley later this week to agree a protocol for police enforcement. They’e been extremely helpful in providing evidence to assist us with our case and I expect them to be just as robust in enforcing it. Some early action will ensure the injunction works as it has done in other areas, as a deterrent. I don’t want this abhorrent behaviour, that we’ve all had to experience, anywhere near our town for a moment longer than we have to.

Cllr Phil North

Leader of Test Valley Borough Council

Member for Bourne Valley Ward