Van dwellers who set up camp in a national park have received a “stay of execution” after appealing an official order to move them on.

About 28 vehicles and caravans make up the unauthorised encampment on land adjacent to Devil's Dyke Road in Brighton.

The four month stay has cost Brighton and Hove City Council more than £20,000.

After complaints from some locals about antisocial behaviour, the local authority served an eviction order on the camp last week.

However those living there have appealed the order claiming they need more time to leave the land.

The local authority has agreed, believing negotiating an informal eviction day could avoid further court action.

But locals claim the move is only stalling the inevitable and will end up costing taxpayers more money in legal costs.

Ward councillor Ken Norman said he was “gobsmacked” by the whole process.

He said: “The council, I believe, will win at the end of the day but it will cost a lot of money.

“The big issue here is human rights, whatever they are.

“These groups tend to have more human rights on their side than all the hundreds of thousands of local residents.

“We seem to have to pay our way every which way possible and these groups just ride roughshod over everybody else.”

Coun Norman said he believed only changes at central government level to award councils more powers could alter the system.

The group of van dwellers have been on the site, which is in South Downs National Park and in a prominent position overlooking the city, for at least four months.

When The Argus visited earlier this month, it included a university student, a roller-skating teacher and a telesales worker.

Some members of the current encampment were part of a group which was evicted from land bordering Devil's Dyke Road in May 2012.

The council said the county court order used then also covers the current camp. A revised legal notice was served on February 14 with a counter appeal served on Thursday.