THE leader of the borough council has explained why the authority's illegal encampments injunction has not been useful in the removal of travellers from Picket Twenty  this week.

As previously reported, the council confirmed it was taking action against a group of people who had set up cam at the Picket Twenty Sports Ground. 

Now, council leader Cllr Phil North has taken to Facebook to explain to residents why legislation used previously has not been possible in this instance.

He said: “This week, I have had several residents contact me to ask why we have been unable to use our unauthorised encampments injunction to remove the travellers at Picket Twenty. Thankfully, they have now been evicted from the site, but it has taken six days rather than the usual 24 hours or so.”

READ MORE: Council takes travellers to court over Picket Twenty Sports Ground encampment

In 2020, TVBC was given an interim injunction which allowed for the removal of all named and unnamed unathorised travellers in the Andover area. However, this legislation was somewhat overturned in May 2021, when a judge removed the power of arrest from all local authorities with injunctions in place to act against unnamed individuals and ruled that final orders should not be made against unknown persons. 

Cllr North continued: “That’s the problem we’ve had in removing travellers from Picket Twenty this week. As they were persons unknown, the police couldn’t enforce our injunction. I still think the police should have used their other powers, not least under the new Police, Crime and Sentencing Act, to avoid us having to go through a week long court process and that’s a matter we are urgently taking up with them.” 

Next year, the High Court will hear an appeal which could see the removal of unknown persons reinstated as part of the injunction powers.

SEE ALSO: Andover residents react to changes to bus services proposed by county council

Cllr North added: “In the meantime, we can still use the power of arrest against those persons named in our injunction - and we are liaising with the police on how they can use their new powers to deal with other incursions as robustly as possible. 

“Whilst we previously suffered incursions on an incredibly frequent basis, I’m pleased that the action we’ve taken means they are much rarer. I’m determined to do everything I can though to further protect the law-abiding residents of Test Valley.”

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