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Fears travellers could hold keys to Brighton and Hove pitches
Is a single key being used to give travellers access to sports pitches across Brighton and Hove?
Locals were left scratching their heads when about 30 vehicles formed an unauthorised encampment on Horsdean Recreation Ground in Vale Avenue, Brighton.
Officers claimed the gate was left open as there was no damage to the post.
But this was rejected by cricketers, who last used the pitch and maintain that they locked up.
After proving that the same key can be used to unlock gates at four other nearby sites, sports teams have now raised fears about security at pitches across the city.
Dmitry Morgan, chairman of Brighton and Hove Crescent Cricket Club, which is based at Horsdean, said: “Somehow when the gates are locked the travellers are getting in.
“I would certainly like to know what the council does to keep these sites secure. How many keys are there out there?”
Mr Morgan said the same key used at Horsdean could also be used at Patcham Place and Upper Lodges in Stanmer Park.
He added it can also unlock a bollard which blocks access in Highview Avenue North in Patcham.
Mr Morgan said he did not know if the key would work at other sites across the city.
He said: “I can see why the council may do it as perhaps it easier for them to have one key when they are doing their rounds.
“But it’s the same old story. They certainly need to beef up security.”
After moving on to the land on Thursday, the group of travellers were evicted by Sussex Police the following day.
The immediate eviction was possible under a section 61 notice as there were planned sports fixtures at the ground over the weekend.
Ward councillor Geoffrey Theobald said: “I think it would be better if there were separate keys so there wasn’t a risk of them being transposed.”
A council spokesman said: “We do not comment on the detail of security measures we have in place to protect council-owned land and property.
“The security measures we take are kept under permanent review.”