GYPSY and travellers groups fear attacks on their communities after hate posters were plastered around a village.

Police were called to investigate the signs in Barns Green near Horsham, where signs written in German declared “Gypsies forbidden” and wrote Nazi slogans like “Sieg Heil”.

The signs have been condemned by the Gypsy Traveller Coalition, who say the signs are part of a worrying national trend of attacks towards the ethnic minorities.

But Itchingfield Parish Council chairman Penny Simpson believes the signs have appeared in response to a decision by Horsham District Council to reject a planning appeal by a nearby gypsy site.

Signs first appeared overnight on Sunday into Monday, but villagers say they were removed promptly, and the incident was reported to the police.

The Gypsy Traveller Coalition chairman, known as Mr Phien, said: “This is a hate crime, and we are outraged.

“It is the predictable outcome of the rhetoric we are hearing from MPs, councillors and people in authority.

“It puts ideas into people’s minds, and their comments encourage behaviour like this.

“This has happened before, we saw 1930s Germany. Children from the Gypsy and traveller communities are affected in schools, it needs to be stamped out.

“There is no excuse for this.

“Any suggestion this is satire is outrageous, it is clearly a racist attack on an ethnic minority with German language and rhetoric suggesting links to Neo Nazis.

“There are many decent minded people in the area who will be disturbed by these signs going up.

“We are a worrying step away from being on the road of verbal abuse turning into more serious attacks.”

Itchingfield Parish Council includes Barns Green, and chairman Penny Simpson said there was a recent appeal by a gypsy site against planning enforcement taken by Horsham District Council.

It was reported that the gypsy site had lot its appeal.

She said: “It would seem to be some sort of backlash.

“I’m 100 per cent certain that the posters had been put up by someone from outside the village.

“It’s almost as though they are trying to cause anarchy, but it is not going to work in our beautiful village.

“The posters were very concerning, of course, and everyone is happy that they are gone.

“But on closer inspection these were anti-establishment posters, put up by an outside influence in an effort to split the community.”

“There is no hate here. If you obey the law and live a good life, you are welcome here.”

Police are investigating, and say anyone with information should call 101 and quote reference 245 of 08/10.