Don't force Travellers out of Hackney!
The London Borough of Hackney are proposing to seek a permanent injunction against a family of Irish Travellers, barring them from pitching on any public space in Hackney. As Hackney residents we believe that this action is inhumane and a waste of public money and there are more suitable solutions to be found to accommodate Travellers.
In May of this year, an Irish Traveller family set up temporarily on Stoke Newington Common. The family has relatives on the official sites and the Council recognises their long term connection with the borough. They had been evicted many times from land in the borough and have said there was nowhere else to go while they remain on the council’s waiting list for an official pitch. Hackney also obtained a temporary injunction prohibiting them from the Common and the other 57 public open spaces in the Borough and have stated in court that they intend to seek to make this injunction permanent. It is likely that this case will be heard in the autumn.
To seek this kind of blanket order is understood to be totally unprecedented.
Hackney does have some site provision for Travellers. That makes them better than some Boroughs but this only amounts to a total of only 27 pitches in the whole of the Borough. It is not clear whether they plan to provide any more in the foreseeable future but we believe they are needed.
As things stand Travellers are left with no option but to travel around desperately seeking somewhere to pitch and waiting to be evicted when the whole cycle starts again. In the past Hackney have allowed Travellers to set up on a temporary basis on land that is not currently being used but is earmarked for future development.
Proceedings in the High Court will involve the expenditure of a great deal of public money. A temporary site would cost little (virtually nothing). But the long term solution is more permanent sites. Both would bring in revenue to the Council.
We therefore call on Hackney Council to:
1. Withdraw the application for a permanent injunction.
2. Take a more constructive approach to find a negotiated solution and avoid the cost of continuous evictions by identifying suitable land for temporary authorised sites.
3. Seriously address the issue of the need for more permanent sites for Travellers.