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Council leader pitches in to move travellers
Travellers will be moved on after being caught breaking into a popular park – by the leader of the council.
Brighton and Hove City Council leader Jason Kitcat was walking home when he came across a man trying to break the lock on the gate to Carden Park, Brighton.
Despite asking him to stop, the man, who had a van and caravan, continued before driving on to the public land.
Coun Kitcat provided a witness statement to Sussex Police and the family have since been ordered to move on.
It comes after the Green administration has received criticism for not acting quickly enough to evict unauthorised encampments across the city.
Coun Kitcat said: “I saw a man trying to break the gate on the park.
“I asked him to stop and he told me, ‘do not worry about it, it’s not your problem’. I told him it was my problem.”
The incident took place at about 9.30pm on Tuesday.
Coun Kitcat said he contacted Sussex Police and the council’s dedicated traveller team immediately.
Officers secured a section 62 notice yesterday and served it on the family, ordering them to move to the city’s dedicated traveller site at Horsdean, north of the A27.
This can only be served when there is room at the site.
A council spokeswoman said: “The family have until 10am today to comply with the notice but we understand they will move before then, if they have not already done so.”
When The Argus visited the site last night there were still two vehicles in the park.
When asked if he felt the incident vindicated the Greens’ “fair but firm” policy towards unauthorised encampments, Coun Kitcat said “precisely”.
He added: “There were other people there and it was well lit so I felt fairly safe.
“People need to take stock of their own personal safety before they act.
“I felt safe and able to challenge this person who was appearing to be damaging public property.
“I would have done it regardless if I was a councillor or not.”
Section 62 orders are only used when the encampment is of a particularly sensitive nature. It does not need the involvement of the court.
However, the local authority said it can only be used when there are sufficient pitches at the Horsdean site.
Conservative councillor Dawn Barnett, who has been one of the fiercest critics of the Greens’ approach to unauthorised encampments, said: “I wish he would have acted this quickly when we had travellers at Greenleas in Hove, Braypool, Peacehaven, Wild Park and all the other areas of the city.
"Maybe it’s because it’s on his doorstep.”
Inspector Bill Whitehead, of Sussex Police, has previously urged members of the public to report all incidents involving travellers.
A spokeswoman for Sussex Police confirmed they attended the park.
She added: “It is the role of the police to preserve the peace and prevent crime and we undertake this role robustly.”