TRAVELLERS have been banned from setting up unauthorised encampments across Andover after a High Court ruling - and could be arrested if they do. 

Test Valley Borough Council has been granted a final injunction order after the town has been blighted by Travellers illegally camping on play parks, sports grounds, car parks and fields over the years.

The ban covers around 17 square miles, encompassing all of Andover, as well as the Alma Road car park in Romsey, Romsey Rapids and the Nursling and Rownhams hall and recreation ground.

Council leader Phil North said: "It’s regrettable that we had to take this action - but I’m clear that unauthorised Traveller encampments won’t be tolerated in Test Valley."

READ MORE: Unauthorised Traveller encampments in Andover now illegal, High Court rules

Andover Advertiser: The order prohibits a list of named individuals as well as ‘persons unknown’ from setting up unauthorised encampments within the defined areas and includes the power to arrest those who breach the order.

Last year a group of Travellers set up camp after forcing their way onto Saxon Fields Sports Ground, in 2022 Travellers set up an encampment on the athletics track at Charlton Sports Centre and in 2018 a group set up camp in Charlton Lakes – to name a few of the places.

The borough council said the areas under the injunction have seen ‘significant problems over many years’.

Cllr North said the vast majority of incidents have involved some form of fly-tipping, damage, nuisance, or intimidating behaviour.

The authority was given an interim injunction which allowed for the removal of all named and unnamed unauthorised Travellers in the Andover area in June 2020. 

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However, this legislation was somewhat overturned in May 2021, when a judge removed the power of arrest from all local authorities.

The power of arrest against ‘persons unknown’ has now been reinstated, which means that the council, in partnership with the council can move on any perpetrator 'very quickly' without having to seek court orders.

During his judgement on Friday, May 17, Judge Dight stated that he found the council’s evidence ‘compelling’ and accepted the need for the council to be able to protect residents from encampments.

Following the issuing of the final order, Cllr North said: “I’m really 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 including some form of fly-tipping, damage, nuisance, or intimidating behaviour - and with every single encampment occupying land without permission. Meaning that when illegally occupied, our parks and open spaces couldn’t be used for their primary purpose and leaving the council - and ultimately the taxpayer - having to clean up the mess.”

He continued: "The reinstatement of the power of arrest against ‘persons unknown’ means that in partnership with the police we can, once again, move on 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 the other work we have done to better protect our open spaces.

“I wish to recognise and give thanks to the officers across the council who have worked tirelessly over many years to gather and present the evidence to support our case. Their efforts are appreciated.”