Taxpayers are set to be hit with a bill of tens of thousands of pounds after travellers overpopulated a dedicated site.

Brighton and Hove City Council’s transit camp in Horsdean only has permission for 23 vehicles.

But over the Christmas period an extra 13 families trespassed on the site, off Braypool Lane, Patcham, meaning the local authority was flouting its own planning permission.

Extra security has been hired to monitor the groups and ensure their safety while council chiefs go through the courts for eviction notices.

The local authority last night refused to divulge a cost, just saying the issue was “ongoing”.

It is understood the cost of the action could reach tens of thousands of pounds.

A council spokesman said: “While some of the traveller families have now left the site, we’re continuing with civil proceedings but it will take at least a week for us to be able to enforce eviction.

“Control measures will continue to be in place until the site is cleared.”

Security costs

In 2011 24-hour security was provided at the transit site at a cost to the taxpayer of £85,000 per year.

24-hour security Conservative councillor Ann Norman said: “I can’t believe that they were allowed to get onto the site in the first place given that there is supposed to be 24-hour security there. And now, as always, it is council taxpayers who will have to bear the considerable cost of evicting them.”

The council said some families voluntarily moving off the site has not led to any extra unauthorised encampments in the city.

It added no neighbouring councils had been paid to open up or accommodate groups.

Shortage of plots

A spokeswoman said: “This seasonal getting together of some extended traveller families over Christmas is completely unrelated to plans to provide a permanent site for travellers in Brighton.

“There is a shortage of plots for travellers in the area and that longer term a purpose-built permanent traveller site will ease the problem of unauthorised encampments.”

A planning application for a new permanent site next to the transit site was due to be submitted towards the end of the last year.

However the local authority said this has been delayed due to negotiations with South Downs National Park Authority.

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