TRAVELLERS trespassing on sites in Halton could become a thing of the past following a landmark High Court ruling which gives councils the power to evict them from its land.
The case involved a family of travellers who claimed their eviction from a public recreation ground breached their human rights and has now set a precedent against travellers looking for places to make camp on council-owned sites throughout the UK.
The seven-strong House of Lords bench unanimously dismissed an appeal by the Maloney family after they claimed Leeds City Council breached their human rights under Article 8 of the European Convention by evicting them from land in Wakefield, West Yorkshire.
The case means families like the Moloneys will be unable to trespass on sites in Halton.
A victory for the travellers at the courts last week would have prevented councils from evicting people from sites around Britain.
The decision would have infuriated hundreds of residents in Widnes and Runcorn after claims that travellers leave a trail of devastation behind them, which has had a knock-on effect on businesses and houses in the area.
Last month it was also claimed travellers wrecked the Norton Cross Road Race after they let their dogs savage athletes who were racing.
During the ruling, Lord Hope of Craighead noted they had been at the recreation ground for only two days when proceedings against them began.
He said: 'They are, of course, Gipsies who are in a vulnerable position as a minority.'
But they had not established the links with the place they were occupying that were needed for it to be considered their home within the meaning of Article 8 (1) of the European Convention.
He added that consideration of their different lifestyle and needs was met by 'requiring proof by the public authority of its entitlement as the owner of the land to obtain an order for possession in the exercise of its property rights'.
The family, which has been evicted from 50 sites, has received legal aid which is understood to have already cost about £300,000.
The Court of Appeal dismissed the case in March last year, but took the unusual step of referring it for a hearing before the Law Lords because of conflict between national and European rulings.
The Court of Appeal said then that the family's only defence against possession proceedings by the council lay in the assertion that it would infringe their rights under Article 8 of the European Convention. This provides that everyone has a right to respect for his or her private and family life and home.