TRAVELLER camps set up in Preston Park and Stanmer Park last week should be cleared immediately by police, it has been claimed.

About 30 caravans moved on to Preston Park last Thursday.

People living near the park said the vehicles were able to gain access to the area because Brighton and Hove City Council failed to secure an entrance after the circus moved out.

Three other camps have been set up in Stanmer Park – two in the main part of the park and the other in Coldean Wood – after a group of travellers were evicted from the Waterhall Conservation Area last week.

Now Brighton and Hove City Council Conservative group leader Geoffrey Theobald and Green MP Caroline Lucas have urged the police and council to remove the unauthorised sites as soon as possible.

Coun Theobald, whose party has twice called for the council to draw up a list of protected sites, said police powers should be used to remove the camps quicker.

He said: “I can think of no other town or city council in the country which would have a large encampment of caravans remaining on one of their flagship public parks.

“The council should have immediately asked the police to use their powers to move the travellers off the park and taken steps to protect other sensitive sites in the city.

“If they took this more robust approach then the travellers would soon get the message that these places are off limits.”

Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas said she had contacted the police and urged them to take action to keep Preston Park safe and was told the issue was under “close scrutiny”.

She added: “I will continue to urge both Sussex Police and the city council to listen to people’s concerns and to take proportionate action to protect park users and local residents.”

Officers from Brighton and Hove City Council and Sussex Police have visited the site.

A council spokesman said the camps in Stanmer Park would be evicted this week while the council applies to the County Court for a possession order for Preston Park so that it can start eviction proceedings.

A police spokesman confirmed that officers had carried out site visits following complaints but were unable to use a Section 61 notice – which gives police the power to remove sites where concerns about safety and disorder exist – because they did not meet requirements.