The Argus‘Let travellers use suburban spaces' plea (From The Argus)

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‘Let travellers use suburban spaces' plea

The Argus: ‘Let travellers use city parks’ plea ‘Let travellers use city parks’ plea

COUNCIL leader Jason Kitcat has suggested more suburban spaces could be open to travellers, adding people do not want to see “Fortress Brighton”.

Brighton and Hove City Council’s leader said parks and open spaces in outlying areas of the city should be used as “tolerated” sites until the Government has reached a decision over a permanent traveller site for the area.

Speaking exclusively to The Argus yesterday in a live webchat, he felt some fortifications could be set aside, adding: “We need to reopen the conversation about some sites where we could undertake some toleration. We need to revisit some of those defences at outlying sites.

“A ‘Fortress Brighton’ approach isn’t affordable.”

Talking about one of the most controversial and debated topics in the city, he said there were more encampments centrally because outer areas such as Hangleton Bottom and Withdean Park had more defences.

Coun Kitcat added that these defences still get breached so it is “not a lasting solution” and it “changes the nature of our parks”.

He said: “Do we really want concrete blocks all the way around Preston Park or Hove Lawns? People don’t want ‘Fortress Brighton’.”

Dawn Barnett, who is the Conservative councillor for Hangleton and Knoll ward, disagrees.

She said: “I don’t think we should remove any of the defences.

“What about residents who live there, deprived of their sports fields and spaces?

“I think they should be reinforced.”

On Hangleton Bottom as an example of an outlying site, she said it “is well defended and should stay that way”.

Residents near Hangle- ton Bottom were divided on the issue.

Donal Sharkey, 32, a company director, said: “I’d be fine with travellers moving back on to Hangleton Bottom as long as enough bins were put out. They don’t make that much mess anyway.”

Lukasz Chojka, 29, said: “If they need to be here then they can be. They just need to clear up after themselves.”

Deborah Gumbrell, 46, said: “I don’t think people around here would like that. It’s near a residential area so it wouldn’t work.”

Coun Kitcat did not want to be drawn on naming a site.

He said: “I think we need to take a review, we need to talk to the landowners and have a think about it.”

Jason Kitcat answers your questions – see pages 20& 29.

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