ONE of Brighton’s biggest ever traveller sites was broken up by police yesterday.
Around 100 caravans were pitched on Wild Park and businesses and residents said some of the travellers were causing problems.
Sussex Police issued a Section 61 eviction order to remove the travellers from the park due to complaints about antisocial behaviour.
Rose Cresswell, owner of Monroe’s Hair and Beauty Salon, which lies opposite the entrance to Wild Park, said her business ground to a halt after the travellers arrived.
She said the salon is also used as a food bank and staff leave out bread and potatoes for people.
However, after the travellers arrived staff noticed the produce was being thrown at passing vehicles.
“I’m not a racist and I don’t hate any particular group of people, I just hate bad behaviour,” she said.
Jill Mitchell, a Moulsecoomb resident, was dismayed that the travellers were able to keep returning to the park every year and that the travellers prevented children’s sport from taking place on the field.
John Pope, a park visitor, said: “The council is prioritising the needs of the traveller community over the needs of the local community.
“I wonder what would happen if I tried to pitch my tent on the park?”
The travellers gained access to the park after the gates were forced open and they drove over earth embankments.
A number of travellers said they could not understand why they had to move on while New Age travellers at the site were being allowed to stay, Michael Morgan, a 49-year-old traveller, said: “The same rules should apply to both groups whether they are Romano-Gypsy travellers or New Age travellers.
“We’ve only been given two hours to clear up our things and move on.”
A spokesman for Sussex Police said: “We are looking at two distinct groups of travellers.
“In response to escalating complaints about antisocial behaviour by the Irish travellers, Sussex Police used section 61 orders authorised by Chief Superintendent Nev Kemp to move them on.
“The group of Irish travellers has split up, with some travelling to Brighton beach.
“There are a handful of caravans left on Wild Park belonging to New Age travellers.”
A Brighton and Hove City Council spokesman said: “A significant number of incidents have been reported to us, and therefore Sussex Police decided to use their Section 61 powers to direct this group to leave the land.
“We have applied to the county court for a possession order which will enable us to arrange for an eviction to be carried out as soon as practicable, should the families fail to leave the site voluntarily.”
After yesterday’s police action a group of travellers turned up in Madeira Drive, Brighton.
A resident also reported seeing 20 caravans arriving in Preston Park.