Illegal traveller camps will be moved on more quickly in Kingston, after the council was granted controversial powers by the High Court.

An injunction preventing unlawful occupation or the depositing of waste or fly tipping on public land, came into force this week, and will last until April 15.

Councillor Liz Green, leader of Kingston Council, said: “We have not taken the decision to take this action lightly.

“Last year we had an unprecedented number of illegal encampments which cost tens of thousands of pounds in clear up and repair costs for the council.

“This interim injunction is to help protect the borough’s open spaces.

“Residents have also raised concerns around the serious problems these encampments can create including noise, nuisance and intimidation.”

The injunction will cover 164 sites across the borough, and anyone breaching it may be held in contempt of court and could be imprisoned, fined or have their assets seized.

In a statement, the council already confirmed it plans to apply for a further order to continue the ban until 2022.

But London Gypsies and Travellers (LGT), an organisation that hopes to end discrimination against traveller communities, has criticised similar injunctions, which have been granted in Enfield, Croydon and Sutton.

Neighbouring Richmond also announced its intention to apply for one in November.

LGT published a response in September 2018 to the trend of London boroughs seeking such injunctions.

A statement read: “LGT believes that borough-wide injunction orders do not offer a solution.

“Because of the lack of caravan site provision for Gypsies and Travellers, the injunctions simply push them to camp on the roadside in other areas.

“Across London,  just 10 new pitches have been built on existing sites out of over 800 identified as needed in a study commissioned by the Greater London Authority in 2008.

“LGT is urging local authorities to support the alternative approach of negotiated stopping which has been proved to reduce the costs to councils and improve the lives of Traveller families.

“It is a more humane response that many local residents would be willing to support.”