Unauthorised encampments banned in Merton

Merton Council has successfully secured a borough-wide injunction banning unauthorised encampments on its land for the foreseeable future.

The injunction granted at the High Court gives the council new powers to protect all of its properties including parks, open spaces, cemeteries, allotments, car parks, industrial estates, schools, leisure facilities and offices from the damage illegal occupations can cause. In addition to covering council owned land the ban also covers Mitcham Common.

Merton has seen a growth in illegal encampments in recent years and an associated increase in fly-tipping which has impacted heavily on the lives of residents and businesses. The bill for clean-up operations of unauthorised occupations of land and officer time pursuing individual proceedings through courts has come to many thousands of pounds.

The injunction gives Merton Council the power to require anyone illegally occupying its land to leave immediately and to seize vehicles if this request is not complied with.

The ban is anticipated to be a major deterrent to people setting up unauthorised camps as breaches of the injunction can lead to large fines, the seizure of property and prison sentences.

Councillor Stephen Alambritis, the Leader of Merton Council, said: “This injunction is about protecting Merton’s property including its beautiful and valuable parks and open spaces from damage. Our aim is to ensure all our residents can fully enjoy the borough’s facilities.

“We are taking this decisive and proactive action in response to a huge number of concerns expressed by residents and businesses over issues such as fly-tipping and environmental damage from unauthorised occupations.

“It is just not acceptable for the council to be spending many thousands of pounds a year on clearing up fly-tips and repairing damage to land caused by people occupying places illegally.

“This ban sends out a strong message that illegal encampments will not be tolerated in Merton.”

The injunction granted at the High Court, which runs until March 2022, extended an interim three-month ban previously secured by the council last December. Copies of the injunction are posted at all the sites it protects and on the council’s website.

For more information visit: https://www.merton.gov.uk/planning-and-buildings/unauthorised-encampments

NOTES TO EDITORS:

  • The council has provided a traveller site in Brickfield Road in Wimbledon which is managed by Clarion Housing.
  • Wimbledon Common is administered by the Wimbledon Common Conservators.