A Hove councillor has criticised the slow response of police and council officials saying that it permitted an unofficial travellers camp to quadruple in size.
Councillor Dawn Barnett contacted Sussex Police and the travellers liaison team at Brighton and Hove City Council when four caravans arrived in Greenleas Recreation Ground in Hangleton a few days ago.
Councillor Barnett, who represents Hangleton and Knoll, said that the park was a sensitive site, not least because children’s activities were supposed to be taking place there during the Easter holidays.
And she said that she had been sworn at, verbally abused and threatened but that police officers told her to go home for her own safety although she lives immediately next to the park.
Councillor Barnett said: “The police said they were worried for my safety but it’s a public park and I’m a council tax payer.
“All the time we’ve got travellers occupying parks and public open spaces, people might wonder if they should be paying council tax for services that they can’t use.
“People don’t want to go in the park because they feel intimidated. They tried to intimidate me.
“Those occupying the park aren’t paying council tax or rent for being there.
“I asked the travellers liaison team and the police to direct them to Horsdean (the official site). There were spaces there.
“They said they’d have to ask their manager and nothing happened.
“There were four caravans there and now there are 15.”
Last year the council carried out work in Greenleas to make the site less vulnerable to unauthorised travellers camps.
And almost a year ago Councillor Barnett, a Conservative, urged travellers to leave Greenleas and go to open spaces in council wards held by Green councillors. She said that the Greens were happier to tolerate travellers.
She was reported to the council’s Standards Board over the incident. It found that she had brought her office or authority into disrepute but did not punish her. It cleared her of failing to treat others with respect and breaking equality laws.
The council said that it was assessing the impact of the incursion in Greenleas to decide what action it should take. In the mean time it would monitor the situation.
Similar camps are also being monitored at 19 Acres, next to the A27 Brighton bypass, and on land next to Ditchling Road, Brighton, in East Brighton Park and at Horsdean Recreation Ground.