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Travellers hotline could be set up in Sussex
A hotline where residents can alert police or council workers to travellers about to illegally camp on a site is being considered.
The proposal came up at a meeting between councillors, MP Tim Loughton and Sussex Police following recent encampments in Worthing, Lancing and Southwick.
East Worthing and Shoreham MP Mr Loughton arranged the meeting to explore the way police and council officers had dealt with the incidents.
Questions asked included why so many travellers had been able to access the sites and why they had not been moved on earlier.
A recent six year court restriction on travellers returning to sites in Southwick, Lancing Beach Green, the Worthing Rotary cricket ground in Broadwater and Northbrook College playground in Durrington is expected to help clear any future encampments more quickly.
Mr Loughton said: “It is clear that Lancing and Worthing in particular have become a summer destination of choice for certain groups of travellers and we need to do better to deter them coming here in the future and, if they do, deal with them more swiftly.
“Yet again, many of my constituents have been inconvenienced and then made to pick up the tab for the damage caused and the council resources involved.”
Mr Loughton said people did not object to travellers per se, it was those who left mess behind that had to be cleared up.
He said: “Other places handle travellers much more effectively and there are some clear lessons which need to be learned quickly so that we don't go through all this again next year.'
A Sussex Police spokesman said: “The meeting produced a number of suggestions - including a 'hotline' for residents - and police agreed to take these away and consider the practicalities of implementing them, together with the local authority.
“At this time these are simply ideas to be explored so it is too early to comment on how they may operate in the future.
“It has been agreed that the group will meet again in three months' time when consideration will have been given and further discussion will take place.
“In the meantime, the police will continue to work with landowners where travellers have settled, together with local communities and the travellers themselves.
“Our role remains that of preserving the peace and preventing crime, a role we undertake robustly.”
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