The protesters were turfed out of Hackney Downs in August.

The cost of removing a camp of anti-Covid vaccination protesters from Hackney Downs is estimated to be £50,000.

It is part of the over £6m overspend and loss of income Covid is forecast to cost the council this financial year.

Coronavirus has claimed the lives of 512 people in Hackney, and 31,642 people have been infected with the virus, according to figures in the week ending 14 September.

Hackney Council took the protesters to the High Court in August to obtain a possession order and an injunction preventing a camp anywhere in the borough.

The campaigners were evicted the following day by High Court bailiffs. Parks staff then started the job of clearing up the camp.

The order was served against Lovedown campaigners and the Campaign for Truth and Justice as well as named individuals.

By 18 September, 167,394, or 64 per cent of residents, had been given at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

Homerton Hospital is seeing a slight increase in the number of Covid patients, with 24 inpatients and six others on ventilators in the week ending 14 September.

At the time of the court ruling, Hackney’s parks boss Cllr Caroline Woodley said: “The group had made a number of demands on our resources, as our parks and green spaces team and enforcement teams joined the police in regularly patrolling the area.

“We know that many residents have been disappointed and upset by the group’s continued presence on Hackney Downs.”

Court papers at Clissold Park preventing anti-vaccination encampments. Photograph: Julia Gregory

The campaigners arrived at Hackney Downs in July after a similar camp was moved from Clapham Common.

In June, an anti-vaccination camp was cleared on Shepherd’s Bush Green after Hammersmith and Fulham coucil took the protestors to court.

Cllr Woodley said: “We want to protect those who haven’t been fully vaccinated yet, and we can do this in a number of ways: by wearing masks on public transport, encouraging everyone to visit the nine vaccination sites we have set up in Hackney, or to take up the walk-in appointments available in local pharmacies, clinics and community venues.”

She added: “Evidence to date demonstrates that two doses of a vaccine provides effective protection from serious illness, hospitalisations and deaths.”

According to a council finance report, legal fees and the cost of removing the unauthorised camp at Hackney Downs is £24,000.

However, the report’s author, senior financial control officer Russell Harvey, went on to explain: “The actual estimated cost of this is £50k but some net underspends are being held to help mitigate this overspend.”

Resident Dave Owen told the Citizen: “I’m appalled and annoyed that any money had to be spent doing this. The police should have moved in the day they appeared and evicted them.

“It isn’t legal to camp on Hackney Downs – anyone else doing this would be prevented. Why were they allowed to stay for weeks, spreading their propaganda of death for all?”

He added: “I have lived around the Downs for over 40 years. In all that time nothing like this has been allowed to happen. I did not approach the camp as I was worried about being infected, and by the response there might be – it just seemed too risky, so I’m furious that the authorities took so long to act.”

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