High Court injunction demands removal of illegally parked caravans in Willingham
A High Court injunction has been issued demanding the removal of several caravans illegally parked in a Willingham field.
The land off Black Pit Drove has been occupied since last August and was raided in November by police, who seized suspected stolen items, along with 102 dogs, and made a number of arrests.
This week, Deputy High Court Judge John Cavanagh QC granted South Cambridgeshire District Council’s application for an injunction order, which gives the travellers until Friday February 19 to leave the site and return the land to its original condition.
If anyone stays, they would be in contempt of court and could be sent to prison, fined or have their assets seized.
Cllr Tumi Hawkins, the council’s lead cabinet member for planning, said: “We won’t tolerate planning breaches from any part of the community.
“This site does not have planning permission to be used as somewhere that people can live and is within the protected green belt of the countryside.
“It’s frustrating that we have to take this action, but we must do so on behalf of the vast majority of our residents who do follow the rules.
“We will continue to take all legal options necessary to resolve this, and our local councillors continue to work closely with Willingham residents, police and the parish council.”
The council has been taking action against the unauthorised encampment since the travellers first turned up on the site.
It issued an enforcement notice under its existing planning powers to prompt them to move on and a temporary injunction was awarded banning further caravans from entering the site.
The High Court injunction served on the occupants was accompanied by a letter setting out the housing advice and support that council officers can provide.
The council stressed that the action is unrelated to the legal static traveller sites in Willingham.
Cllr Dawn Percival, one of the council’s local members for Over and Willingham, said: “This has been a drawn-out, frustrating and expensive process and my colleague Cllr Bill Handley and I have been following the case very carefully from the start.
“Some people have claimed that this should have been a quick and easy process, but this is far from true; with ownership jointly in the hands of several people, parallel investigations and various legal hurdles, the process has been more drawn out than anyone would like.
“As local members for this ward, Bill and I will continue to press for this situation to be fully resolved.”
Cllr Handley, who represents the same ward, said: “Dawn and I would like to thank the enforcement officers at South Cambridgeshire District Council for their painstaking, patient and diligent work. Hopefully this saga can now be brought to a conclusion.”