Get involved: Send your news, views, pictures and video by texting SUPIC to 80360 or email us.
Brighton and Hove Council can’t get back eviction cost
5:10pm Thursday 21st March 2013 in News
Owners of abandoned vehicles in an unauthorised encampment cannot be pursued for costs, according to council chiefs.
Van dwellers were forced to move off land near Devil’s Dyke Road in Brighton last week after spending more than four months on the site.
Despite initially saying they would pursue the owners for costs, town hall lawyers have now said this is either not possible or too expensive.
Conservative councillor Dawn Barnett said: “Yet again the taxpayer has been lumbered with this cost.
“It’s wrong and absolutely disgraceful.
“The council should have scrapped all the vehicles, not allowed them free parking before the owners can come and pick them up.”
Of the 28 trucks and caravans which made up the original site, 11 were abandoned.
A council spokesman said it had scrapped two as it did not know the owners and investigating would cost more than it could ever recoup.
This was despite the local authority saying immediately after the eviction that it would seek to pass costs on.
The spokesman added the other nine had been taken to the city car pound until the owners picked them up.
He said: “The law of the land prevents councils recouping costs where vehicles are seized as part of an eviction.
“This is an eviction, not a parking offence – and the rules are different.”
Pete West, the chairman of the council’s environment committee, said: “This administration and all previous ones have treated unauthorised traveller encampments in the same way – according to the law of the land.
“Residents understandably wanted these vehicles moved.
“We’ve done that and there is a cost involved.
“Flytipping is a nationally widespread crime precisely because culprits are hard to identify and council resources for investigation are limited.”
It is estimated the encampment has cost the council more than £20,000.
This is without the costs of the clearance, which the local authority said it did not have.
Among those living at the camp were people from surrounding towns and cities who claimed to have fallen on hard times.
An eviction order was served in February but campers appealed, citing that they needed more time to leave the land.
The van dwellers moved off the site last Friday and are now in the Upper Lodges, near Stanmer Park.
See the latest news headlines from The Argus:
- Union announces further strike action after negotiation talks crumble
- Looking back: Budgie not just a pretty boy then!
- Union’s anger at frontline care plans in West Sussex
- Huge shingle moving operation to improve coastal defence in Shoreham and Lancing
- Sussex anti-frackers in tea party protest