Travellers have joined forces with an action group to fight council plans to evict them before Christmas.

A group of about 15 travellers wants to stay on an old BMX track, off Wilson Avenue in Whitehawk, Brighton, until the new year.

They moved on to the land from an adjacent site in Sheepcote Valley after Brighton and Hove City Council was granted a possession order, which would have forced them to leave.

Now the council is taking them to the county court again, to get them off the new site.

The group said it had been welcomed by local people and was not causing a nuisance. Its cause is backed by David Bangs, of Ewhurst Road, Brighton, who is secretary of the Sussex Travellers' Action Group.

Clark Peters, 29, who has been a traveller for nine years, said: "We are forced to trespass on council land because there is no provision for us.

"We have no option. We want to be able to stay on a site legally so we can carry out vehicle repairs and seek medical attention if we need to.

"We only want to stay where we are until the new year. The land is not being used for anything else and the locals have all been very friendly."

He said members of the group needed hospital treatment and should be allowed to stay on the site on health grounds. One is waiting for a hip replacement, another neurosurgery.

The council has offered to accommodate the travellers with health concerns on another site but they have declined because they want to stay together.

A spokeswoman for the city council said: "The council has worked extremely hard to give this group of travellers every support.

"Not only did we provide water, cleansing services and toilets, until they were vandalised, we also tolerated the travellers on the site pending a vacancy becoming available on the council's only designated travellers' site at Horsdean.

"The council extended an offer to occupy this site on three occasions to accommodate travellers with health and welfare needs but all were refused. We also offered permanent accommodation to another traveller which was again refused.

"The council has not indicated when any eviction will take place."

The case was adjourned by Brighton County Court yesterday and will be heard on Monday.