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House of Commons Hansard
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Petitions
22 November 2017
Volume 631

Petition

Wednesday 22 November 2017

OBSERVATIONS

Communities and Local Government

Law relating to travelling communities

The petition of constituents of Hodge Hill,

Declares that we are blighted by the disruption of travelling communities repeatedly moving onto public green space and causing significant damage.

The petitioners therefore urge the House of Commons to change the law to allow instant eviction, rather than waiting the 48 hours now required by law.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Liam Byrne, Official Report, 16 October 2017; Vol. 629, c. 687.]

[P002062]

Observations from the Minister for Housing and Planning (Alok Sharma):

The Government are concerned about unauthorised traveller encampments and the effect that they can have on communities. In order to remove trespassers from open land, landowners must make an application to the relevant Court for an Order for Possession. The procedure for evicting trespassers from open land is contained within Part 55 of the Civil Procedure Rules. Part 55.5 states that:

(2) In a possession claim against trespassers the defendant must be served with the claim form, particulars of claim and any witness statements—

(a) in the case of residential property, not less than 5 days; and

(b) in the case of other land, not less than 2 days, before the hearing date.

Applications in respect of travellers incursions are treated as urgent business and the local court (subject to court capacity) will issue proceedings and set a hearing on the same day, with the hearing fixed for the next available date. Applications can be made to the County Court without notice. In exceptional circumstances, applications without notice can also be made to the High Court.

The time taken to conduct evictions from open land reflects the time required for the legal procedures to be completed and the need to give the defendants time to make alternative arrangements. The Civil Procedure Rules state that the times for service can be shortened further in particular circumstances, such as those concerning assault or serious damage to property. In light of these provisions, it is not considered a change in law is necessary to abridge the times in all cases.

The Housing Minister, Alok Sharma MP, announced on 9 October at the General Debate on Gypsies and Travellers and local communities that the Government intend to issue a call for evidence on the effectiveness of enforcement against unauthorised developments and encampments. We welcome views on whether there is anything that would ensure existing powers can be used more effectively, and will set out further details regarding the call for evidence shortly.