A NEW gypsy and travellers’ site which is set to serve the whole of West Sussex was officially launched near Chichester today.
The £1.25m site in Westhampnett has been a year-long project between eight councils and is set to be up and running by the start of April.
West Sussex County Council will oversee the running of the transit site, and speaking at Monday’s launch, leader Louise Goldsmith said: “We’ve been looking to find a site and to build it in West Sussex for quite some time and in September 2013 we agreed to do a big piece of work on it.
“It’s been a lot of effort from a lot of people and a lot of collaborative work. It’s a facility which is much-needed in the county.
“It’s very important to offer a transit site for people to come to and now we have that.
“We know that it worked very well in East Sussex so we’re following a similar model.”
The Westhampnett site has nine transit pitches and has been jointly funded by all the district and borough councils in the county, as well as West Sussex County Council. The project also received a £630,000 government grant.
The scheme has been met with some concern from nearby residents, though Chichester District Councillor Josef Ransley said it would solve the long-standing problem of unauthorised gypsy settlements.
“There has been an issue with unauthorised encampments that we’ve had, county-wide for many years. Chichester alone had 72 over the last two years.
“They create a lot of discord, upset and a lot of cost to parish councils to deal with so it’s a matter that had to be resolved.”
The project had been carried out in collaboration with Sussex Police and Katy Bourne, police and crime commissioner was there at the launch to approve the site’s opening.