Please note: Following a ruling in the High Court, City of Wolverhampton Council’s injunction to prohibit unauthorised encampments has been discharged. We are appealing this decision and will work with partners to take action on any incidents in the meantime. Work to develop our short-stay stopping site is not affected by this decision and the development will continue.
What is an unauthorised traveller encampment?
An unauthorised encampment arises where people are residing in a vehicle or vehicles, caravans, motorhomes or similar structures on any land without consent. The encampment may be on council land, highway land or private land.
City of Wolverhampton Council has been granted an injunction to protect the city’s green spaces and other vulnerable sites against unauthorised traveller encampments across the city.
The injunction, obtained from Birmingham High Court on 2 October 2018, enables the city council to evict travellers encamped on the protected sites more quickly and save taxpayers’ money being spent on expensive court proceedings and excessive clean-up operations.
Anyone illegally occupying any of the protected sites could be arrested and imprisoned, fined or have their assets seized.
Please view the full list of sites covered by the injunction.
Why do we have an injunction in place?
The issue of unauthorised encampments in Wolverhampton has escalated in recent years increasing each year from 10 incursions in 2014 to 34 in 2017.
The total cost to City of Wolverhampton Council in both 2016 and 2017 is estimated to be well in excess of £250,000 (this figure excludes West Midlands Police costs and costs to local businesses that are affected).
From 1 January 2018 to 16 April 2018, 21 incursions had occurred in Wolverhampton which represents the most encampments in any single council area and 24% of the total in the West Midlands.
Unauthorised encampments have incurred significant legal and clean-up costs and additionally the council has had to divert staff from providing other services to the settled community. They have also disrupted local businesses and caused amenities to be unusable. Anti-social behaviour is reported by local communities with people often feeling intimidated and in some cases subject to abuse.
What has happened so far?
On December 5 2019, the city council returned to the High Court to attend the review hearing and to make an application to vary the injunction to protect more sites in the city including Bantock Park, Heath Town Park and WV Active Aldersley.
As part of its variation application, the council also asked for Nettlefolds Park, Villiers Primary School and two pieces of land Off Wobaston Road and land at the rear of Inkerman Street to be removed from the injunction as, having been developed since the original injunction was argued, they were no longer considered at risk of illegal incursions.
In addition, the council updated the High Court with details of the progress that has been made to identify a piece of land for a proposed negotiated stopping point (NSP).
Acknowledging the progress that has been made and recognising the need for an injunction in Wolverhampton, the High Court judge, Mr Justice Stuart-Smith approved the continuation of the injunction and the application to vary.
The judge also set a requirement for the council to return to court in July 2020 for a further review hearing to discuss the progress of the NSP.
What happens next?
The city council returned to the High Court on Monday 20 July 2020 for a further review hearing.
At that hearing, permission was granted for the council to continue with its traveller injunction until January 2022.
The court was also updated on progress to develop a negotiated stopping point. Planning permission was granted for derelict land at Gorsebrook Road.
The NSP has now been developed and it could see up to 13 traveller families housed for a maximum 14 days at a time with a year-long trial to assess the level of use.
In approving the continuation of the injunction, Mr Justice Martin Spencer endorsed the approach of the council which he said complied with both the “letter and spirit” of the latest case law from the Court of Appeal.
He also noted that the council was “working hard” to make sure the NSP gets built and opened.
Further information and inspection documents
Play the video above to have the decision from the High Court on Monday 20 July 2020 read to you.
A copy of the documentation filed at the Court is retained at the Council's offices and is available for public inspection. Inspection of the documents can take place at the Council's offices (Civic Centre, Wolverhampton) by prior appointment only.
To make an appointment to inspect the documents, please contact the council via the contact details below.
Address: Public Protection Team, Wolverhampton City Council, Civic Centre, St Peter's Square, Wolverhampton, WV1 1RG
E-mail: email@example.com (Please refer to 'Traveller injunction' in the subject box.)
You can also view the Injunction and Power of Arrest papers here or play the video above to have the papers read to you.
To find out more, visit our FAQs page.