The ArgusTravellers cost Brighton and Hove City Council an extra £200,000 (From The Argus)

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Travellers cost Brighton and Hove City Council an extra £200,000

The Argus: Travellers at the authorised site at Horsdean, Patcham Travellers at the authorised site at Horsdean, Patcham

Travellers have cost taxpayers £200,000 more than expected this year.

Brighton and Hove City Council was expecting to come in on budget on its obligations to provide sites and facilities for nomadic groups this financial year.

However, after 13 extra families trespassed on its dedicated transit site in Braypool Lane, Patcham, over the Christmas period, local authority bosses have had to find a further £107,000.

The money was mainly spent on extra security at the 23-pitch plot but also included the cost of repairs, a new fire hydrant, litter collections and utility costs.

An extra £116,000 must also be found due to “increased costs” at other unauthorised encampments in recent months.

Opposition councillors have asked the minority Green administration to ensure the site is managed properly as the council has to reduce next year’s budget by more than £17million.

Conservative councillor Geoffrey Theobald said: “The situation is rapidly becoming a farce.

“There is supposed to be 24-hour security at Horsdean so the additional travellers should never have been allowed to get on the site in the first place.

“And now the council taxpayer is having to pick up the bill to restore the facilities that have once again been damaged.”

Huge extra bill

Labour councillor Gill Mitchell said: “This is a huge extra bill that local taxpayers will have to pick up and we simply cannot support the additional funding that the Greens want to add into their budget proposals.”

A council spokesman said: “These are forecast figures and we will be striving to keep these costs as low as possible.

“As we were successful in obtaining an early eviction of the Horsdean trespassers, this forecast is likely to be reduced in the next budget report.

“We also had high occupancy rates at the site, which has reduced these costs.”

Unauthorised camps

There are currently two unauthorised encampments in the city – one in Devil’s Dyke Road, and the other at the Race Hill allotments, off Wilson Avenue.

The local authority said it was working to secure an eviction.

Town hall plans to create a permanent traveller site next to the transit plots are expected to be submitted in the coming weeks.

Coun Theobald said: “If the council can’t even manage this transit site properly then it just beggars belief that they want to add another 18 permanent pitches to it.

“As the recent water logging shows, this simply isn’t a suitable location. It’s time for a complete rethink.”

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