Get involved: Send your news, views, pictures and video by texting SUPIC to 80360 or email us.
Horsdean travellers’ site about to reopen amid growing tensions
A transit site for travellers could be up and running by the end of the week after being closed for more than three months.
The closure of Horsdean, the only transit site in the city, has been blamed on a series of unauthorised encampments in recent months.
It is hoped its reopening will ease tensions between travellers and residents which have threatened to erupt several times in the last week.
But with the 23-pitch site due to open in phases, and at least 30 live-in vans in the city, concerns have been raised that Horsdean cannot solve the ongoing problems completely.
In the past week a game of cat and mouse has been played out between travellers and the council, culminating in two evictions in one day.
There are also doubts whether the travellers will take up the pitches at Horsdean.
One member of the group, speaking at Woodingdean, said: “The council know they haven’t created enough sites for us.
“Horsdean is good in the winter with the showers but we like it here in the summer.”
Police had to attend several court-ordered evictions amid heated exchanges on Friday, when residents blocked travellers as they tried to set up camp on Saltdean Oval.
Simon Kirby, MP for Brighton Kemptownand Peacehaven, said: “The events of last Friday clearly demonstrate the current situation of cat and mouse has to change.”
Horsdean is also Brighton and Hove City Council’s preferred location for a permanent site, with a £1.7 million Government grant going towards its redevelopment.
Up to 23 families and travellers living there will pay rent and council tax.
A council spokeswoman said: “The works on the transit site at Horsdean are in the final stages of completion and the site will be reopened as soon as possible.
“Unfortunately while we want to reopen Horsdean as soon as we can, we are not able to do so until the end of this week at the earliest.
CAT AND MOUSE: THE LATEST
One group of travellers, made up of 23 vans, has been to five sites in five days and has been officially evicted three times.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 10 – group evicted from Carden Park under Section 61 following reports of antisocial behaviour and nursery break-in 2PM, FRIDAY, JULY 12 – group evicted from fields off Bexhill Road, Woodingdean, after more reports of anti-social behaviour.
5PM, FRIDAY, JULY 12 – group evicted from cricket pitch at East Brighton Park due to likelihood of “increased community tension” and to allow cricket fixtures to go ahead.
6PM, FRIDAY, JULY 12 – stand-off with residents as travellers try to set up on Saltdean Oval, due to be used for a Lions event the next day.
8PM, FRIDAY, JULY 12 – travellers arrive at Wild Park, with the council now seeking a possession order in the county court.
HORSDEAN: ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS
The Horsdean site is in a sensitive location with concerns over flooding and waste water getting into the city’s drinking supply.
The council is working with the Environment Agency to resolve these issues before it submits planning permission for a permanent site.
A council spokesperson said: “We are very aware of the sensitivity of the Horsdean location in ground water terms and have been in contact with the Environment Agency from very early on in the site selection process.”
See the latest news headlines from The Argus:
- Murder investigation launched following huge fire which killed man, 24, and led to four others needing treatment
- Travel Watch Live
- Jury in Ricardo Pisano case retires for fourth day
- Hard hitting course launched to improve alcohol awareness
- Your Interview: send us your questions for Trevor Love