TRAVELLERS illegally setting up camps in Thurrock now face arrest after the council was granted new powers.

Following a hearing, at The Royal Courts of Justice, the council has been granted a blanket injunction, enforceable in areas of both public and private land within the borough.

It means anyone who sets up an illegal encampment faces the prospect of immediate arrest and will give the council the tools it needs to move encampments on in just a few hours, rather than the days it currently takes.

Thurrock Council presented a substantial case to the High Court, comprising of about 2,500 pages of evidence.

Barry Johnson, councillor for housing, said: “Whilst we have seen a reduction of 77 per cent in unauthorised encampments this year, due to target hardening measures and increased enforcement activity, this injunction will give us far greater powers to deal with unauthorised encampments and protect parks and other green spaces in the borough.

“This is the second in a three stage process.

“We now have an interim injunction which will be in place for several months whilst we prepare our case for a final injunction.

“The current situation with unauthorised encampments is simply not acceptable and this injunction will act as a far greater deterrent and give us the powers we need to protect our land more effectively.

“I would like to thank everyone who has worked so hard on this extremely complex process. It’s success has been due to the significant gathering of evidence from everyone involved.”

The so-called “interim injunction” will also prevent named defendants from setting up an encampment anywhere within Thurrock, without the appropriate planning permission.

It will also prevent ‘persons unknown’ from setting up camps at a number of named sites within the borough.