A GROUP of travellers were ordered to leave after setting up camp in Preston Park.

As many as a dozen vehicles drove into the public site on Friday evening at 6pm.

On Saturday the caravans were still there, and the police alongside Brighton and Hove City Council issued an order for them to leave under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act.

The vehicles did leave the site on Sunday, but then it was reported that vehicles had parked at Peacehaven Community School.

Previously campaign groups have warned of a “chronic shortage” of sites for travellers across Sussex.

But the arrival of the caravans sparked concerns for some in Brighton. Donna Clark said: “It’s a space issue.

“The park gets busy enough with the current pandemic. When this is the only outdoor space people have it’s even more restricting when they take up a whole corner in this way.

“If the police have no power to move them it’s a sorry state of affairs.”

Others expressed concerns about any clean up that might be needed after the caravans left the park.

One passer by said: “There was a police car at the top of the park, and a police van parked at the bottom, but I don’t think there was too much of a rush. I think there were about 15 or 20 caravans parked there.”

In a statement the police said: “At 6pm on Friday, May 22, we received a report of a group of travellers entering Preston Park, Brighton.

“Officers visited the site and in liaison with Brighton and Hove City Council a community notice requiring them to leave was served under Section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act.

“It required them to leave the location, which they have since done.”

It is not clear if a new order was issued over a camp at Peacehaven.

Earlier this year The Argus reported on the concerns of campaign group Friends, Families and Travellers. The group criticised the city council along with authorities in East and West Sussex over a “chronic shortage” of sites in the county.

“It beggars belief that the Home Office are calling for more powers to tell Travellers where they can’t go while local authorities are largely failing to identify any space where Travellers can go,” policy manager Abbie Kirkby said.

The council does not plan to provide more Traveller sites despite a 50-caravan encampment occupying Hove Lawns last year.

The city council only has one site for travellers in St Michael’s Way next to the A27. All 12 of its permanent pitches are occupied.