A councillor is being investigated after she handed travellers in her ward directions to other open spaces in Brighton and Hove.
Councillor Dawn Barnett, who represents Hangleton and Knoll, provided the directions to travellers who set up an unauthorised camp in Greenleas Recreation Ground in her ward.
Her actions are being investigated under the Brighton and Hove City Council standards regime. She declined to comment about the complaint.
If she is found to have broken the council’s rules she could be punished by being suspended from her role as a councillor.
Councillor Barnett, a Conservative, gave directions to three open spaces in wards with Green councillors.
She has been a vocal critic of the Greens’ “firm but fair” policy on unauthorised travellers encampments.
The Greens say that they want to end the game of cat and mouse each summer when travellers are evicted from one site only to pitch up at another shortly afterwards.
They say that it is costly and that unauthorised camps at some sites should be tolerated until a permanent site is established in the area.
There is already an official transit site at Horsdean but many more groups pitch up each summer than there are spaces there. The land at 19 Acres, off Devil’s Dyke Road, Brighton, appears to be treated as a tolerated site.
Councillor Barnett questioned whether those who had taken over Greenleas were genuine travellers.
After handing them directions to other sites, she said that they had told her they had homes elsewhere during the winter.
She said that they should abide by the same rules as anyone else wanting to take a caravan holiday.
She also said that the Greens had promised to ask the police to deal with anti-social behaviour at unauthorised camps.
In Greenleas, she said, neighbours complained of fighting, urinating and defecating in the bushes, and noise late at night, including the noise of generators.
She said that council tax payers and their children who wanted to use the park felt unsafe because of the aggressive and intimidating behaviour of the people camped there. She cited incidents of fighting, swearing and shouting.
The council did issue a noise abatement notice.
The complaint about Councillor Barnett was reported to have been made by Councillor Phelim MacCafferty, a Green who represents Brunswick and Adelaide.
His ward was one of those to which Councillor Barnett gave directions.
He declined to comment about the matter although it is believed that he complained that Councillor Barnett, in giving out the directions, had encouraged the travellers to trespass.
A spokesman for the council said: “Complaints about the conduct of elected members remain confidential until the conclusion of any investigation and may only then be released in certain circumstances.
“The council is not able to either confirm or deny that an investigation into the conduct of a member is under way.”
Investigations can take up to six months.
Councillor Barnett is expected to face an interview about the complaint by the end of this month.
The council’s Standards Committee is next due to meet at the end of September.
One resident in Councillor Barnett’s ward said: “It seems like only yesterday the Greens were complaining about one of their councillors – Jason Kitcat – being brought before the Standards Committee.
“Their gripe seemed to be that Councillor Kitcat was only doing what the council was already doing – in his case sharing footage of council meetings on the web.
“But he wasn’t doing it in the way the administration wanted.
“This is exactly the same principle really.
“Dawn Barnett is doing exactly what the Green administration is doing in encouraging travellers away from some sites and directing them towards others.
“It’s the Greens after all who have been talking about tolerated sites.
“She may not be doing it in the way the administration might like but in reality it’s no different.
“It would be hypocritical and disingenuous to drag her before the Standards Committee just for doing her job in this way.
“Dawn sticks up for ordinary people.
“Maybe if the council had got its act together when the travellers took over Greenleas, people round here might think the council was acting on behalf of ordinary people too.
“Trying to make some kind of example out of Dawn just makes the Greens look worse than they already do over the problem with travellers.
“I think everyone knows it’s not a new problem but they look like they’re on the back foot now.
“They need to concentrate on the actual issue in hand and not distractions like Dawn’s efforts on behalf of her constituents.”
The Hangleton resident said that other people in the ward had sent messages of support to Councillor Barnett.
The travellers in Greenleas left after almost two weeks after the council obtained an eviction order.
They are believed to have moved to Ladies Mile nature reserve in Patcham.
On Friday (12 August) the council obtained an eviction order relating to Ladies Mile since when the number of caravans and other vehicles in Wild Park, Moulsecoomb, has risen to more than 50.