DISPUTES with travellers can be resolved if people talk to them instead of “digging trenches”, the new leader of the Greens has said.

Councillor Phelim Mac Cafferty, the new leader of the Brighton and Hove Green Party, said issues between residents and travellers can be eased by both parties discussing problems.

He said better “understanding” on both sides can help to ease tensions.

Travellers were an ongoing issue for the past Green administration, who were criticised for taking a soft touch on illegal encampments.

Their actions have even been cited by one of their councillors as one the reasons for their defeat in the council elections.

In an exclusive interview with The Argus, Councillor Mac Cafferty said: “I can try to understand where these frustrations come from. I have had travellers who have arrived in my own ward – on Brunswick Terrace.

“I think the key thing whenever these issues arise is to carry on talking to people.

“The first thing I did whenever I was on the understanding travellers have arrived I went and spoke to them immediately, I went and spoke to the MP for Hove, I made sure our traveller team knew about the travellers and made sure the welfare of the travellers was okay.

“I made sure that everyone knew what the other was thinking and saying.

“I think a lot of this is people have dug trenches and have stopped talking and I think like the resolution to so many problems, actually when communication is kept strong people began to understand.

Last year, six possession orders were served on traveller groups camped at Stanmer Park, five at Sheepcote Valley, four each at Black Rock and Waterhall and three orders were served in Preston Park.

Previous Green leader Jason Kitcat suggested scrubland which was awaiting development should be opened up to travellers in an effort to ease the pressure on city parks.

The council had to spend nearly £250,000 appealing for orders to remove travellers from city parks last year.

And Earlier this year plans for a permanent traveller site at Horsdean were given the go-ahead by the South Downs National Park Authority.

It is hoped the proposals, which will add 12 new permanent pitches to the existing transit site, will ease the pressures of illegal encampments in Brighton and Hove’s parks.

The site is currently closed for a year of improvement works.

Unless a temporary site can be opened, police are unable to move travellers on, as there needs to be an alternative site available to use the section 62 powers.

This means eviction is left to the council each time and a more lengthy eviction process via the courts.