At an extraordinary meeting of Southend Borough Council last night, councillors rejected a Conservative motion that called for the Council to apply for a borough-wide injunction against travellers, on the basis of legal advice that such an injunction was unlikely to be granted by a court.
Cllr Matt Dent, Labour councillor for Kursaal ward and Labour spokesperson for Community Safety, said, “I was astonished that the Conservative councillors were so willing to ignore external legal advice. Applying for such an injunction would cost thousands of pounds of local taxpayers’ money, which would be wasted if the effort failed, which the legal advice that we were provided indicated that it would.”
“Whilst all sides of the chamber accepted the need to deal with illegal encampments quickly and efficiently, I am surprised that the Conservatives would want to waste such quantities of taxpayers’ money, at a time when local government finances are so strained.”
Cllr Ian Gilbert, the leader of the Council, said, “The administration remains committed to dealing with any illegal encampments proactively, and hence supported three of the resolutions proposed. However, on the legal advice we received we cannot justify seeking an injunction that is disproportionate to the problem faced, and which we were advised would not be granted for that very reason.”