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Four-hour stand-off between Patcham residents and evicted Wild Park travellers
Updated 4:44pm Thursday 12th June 2014 in News
“People power” saw residents turn out in force for a four-hour stand-off with travellers who drove on to a football and cricket pitch.
More than 30 Patcham residents turned up in protest after travellers drove on to the grass of Patcham United Football Club and the Crescent Cricket Club in Horsdean Recreation Ground in Vale Avenue, Brighton.
Eight camper vans were seen entering the field and parking on the grass at about 6.20pm last night (Wednesday, June 11).
Police said the travellers disturbed a cricket match which was about to be start.
A nearby resident, Nick Poyner, even parked his car to try to block traveller access to the field.
Mr Poyner, of Highfield Avenue North, and chairman of Patcham United Football Club, was one of the first to arrive at the scene after receiving a call from a concerned neighbour at 6.30pm.
Police arrived shortly afterwards and kept control of the situation by standing between neighbours and travellers by the car blocking the field.
Mr Poyner immediately reacted by parking his car to block the travellers' access on to the field.
He said: “I felt very vulnerable and decided to stay in my car until the police got here.”
The travellers were evicted from Wild Park in Lewes Road, Moulsecoomb, earlier the same day.
One traveller, who preferred to remain anonymous, said: “We feel discriminated against because police are taking the side of the residents, instead of answering our questions, which is why can't we stay in a field that belongs to the council?”
Another traveller, who also wished to remain anonymous, said they only wanted to stay overnight and chose that field because they wanted to let their children play.
Neighbours felt Sussex Police should have warned them about the eviction from Wild Park.
Steve Wright, who lives in Vale Avenue, said this has happened two or three times before.
“We know they need somewhere to go – we appreciate that but there's a site just over there,” he said pointing towards the nearby Horsdean transit site in Braypool Lane.
Dmitry Morgan, chairman of the Crescent Cricket Club, wants to see more done by the council.
He said: “Travellers coming to Brighton, and wanting to stay in Brighton is absolutely fine. But grounds that are for the community should be kept for the community and properly secured.”
Mr Morgan added: “It is the council we really blame, not the police. It’s the council that is failing its residents.”
A police spokesperson said: “Police were called to a report of a group of travellers arriving in Horsdean Park Recreation Ground.
“Some of them had been part of a large group moved on from Wild Park on Wednesday afternoon after a section 61 order was served on them requiring them to leave.
“About 12 vehicles and eight caravans got on to the ground, upsetting residents.
“Police attended the site immediately and early consideration for a further direction under a section 61 order was undertaken.
“Officers remained at the site to prevent a breach of the peace.”
After the travellers moved on at about 10pm, one Patcham resident added: “People power spoke tonight.”
By Lisa Meakin, Federica Bedendo and Georgina Townshend