Residents react to traveller site plans

NEWS that Adur and Worthing councils are to help fund a controversial £1.3million traveller site near Chichester has caused a bit of a stir among residents.

Friday, 10th January 2014, 11:57 am
Travellers at Middle Road Recreation Ground in Shoreham in August

Many are concerned that the site will only include nine pitches, when West Sussex regularly hosts groups of more than 40 caravans.

Commenting on the Shoreham Herald’s Facebook page, Jennie Tindall said the limited amount of space being provided was insufficient.

“More support is needed for this community so they can improve their literacy, access to schools, health and chances of improving their general life through education, jobs etc.”

Jason Burstow commented on the Worthing Herald page, saying it was a waste of time and money and that councillors had ‘no idea’.

“Taxpayers money I assume will be funding this. Will they pay my mortgage as well? The travellers wont appreciate it and will destroy everything,” he said.

“They are not paying or contributing towards society so why should we accommodate them?”

Val Smith Powell said the transit site did not represent good value for money.

“If they paid tax etc it would be fine, but as they don’t then money shouldn’t be spent on a site,” she wrote.

Worthing Borough Council Leader Paul Yallop explained that the site was meant to act as a deterrent, rather than to actually accommodate entire groups of travellers.

Without such a site, police are unable to use Section 62A of the 1994 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act to remove travellers from public or private land.

Under the act, police must have a suitable site to which to direct travellers, with water, toilets and rubbish collection facilities.

Cllr Yallop said: “It’s purely a deterrent against the exploitation of loopholes in the law.

“We do what is called a partial eviction where we only evict one or two individuals onto the transit site. The idea is that these large encampments like to travel together, and it’s likely none of them will want to go to the site.”

Cllr Yallop said groups were likely to then look for somewhere they could all camp together, rather than split up.

“The alternative is to say we need a 50-pitch site transit site in Worthing. You tell me where we can put that in a compact urban area,” he said.

“We are quite grateful that Chichester has found a site, because it’s quite difficult to find a site where people won’t be biased about having the travellers.

“If we don’t do this we will get more and more each year.

“It’s not ideal, it’s a pragmatic solution. But we need to do something or we’ll see ever increasing numbers of illegal encampments, because other areas are doing these things and we are seen as an area that’s not co-ordinating our response.”

Both councils agreed to contribute £162,500 towards the £1.3million site at a meeting of the joint strategic committee on January 7.

Adur council leader Neil Parkin said at the meeting: “This is certainly not a panacea that they are never going to happen again, but the whole idea is to make it a lot less attractive, so it’s not ‘Let’s spend the summer in West Sussex.’

“If it stops two then that’s good but hopefully it will be a bit more effective.”