Green MP Caroline Lucas was jeered at a public meeting about travellers this evening (Friday 13 April).
She spoke up for her party from the floor as Councillor Bill Randall, the Green leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, defended its position from the platform.
As the audience of about 200 people became heated, Hove Conservative MP Mike Weatherley called for calm.
Dr Lucas, the MP for Brighton Pavilion, was defending her party’s handling of unauthorised travellers camps since it won control of the council almost a year ago.
She was speaking at a meeting called by Mr Weatherley to discuss what he described as “the Green Party’s soft stance on the illegal invasion of our parks by travellers”.
He said that he had called the meeting – at Patcham Community Centre in Ladies Mile Road – in response to proposals for a permanent camp for travellers and gypsies at Horsdean.
The site is next to the existing transit camp for travellers, just inside the South Downs National Park close to the junction of the A23 London Road and the A27 Brighton bypass.
Mr Weatherley said before the meeting: “Travellers took over another piece of public open space last month when they illegally occupied Greenleas Park in Hangleton.
“The Green administration claims that the construction of yet another publicly funded traveller site would stop such invasions yet there were actually spaces available for travellers at the current site at Horsdean.
“Rather than stay at the site which is already there for them, the travellers chose to pitch up for free in the middle of a public park.
“Residents have quite frankly had enough of travellers infringing the law at their expense.
“While I am pleased that the travellers moved on, I am deeply concerned by the delayed reaction of Brighton and Hove City Council and Sussex Police on this issue.
“In future travellers should be moved on within the hour, not after days, weeks or months.”
Conservative Councillor Graham Cox told the meeting that some travellers owned property in Ireland.
He would like to see them encouraged to buy small dedicated plots locally so that they would be less likely to occupy parks and open spaces.
He was concerned that a ghetto was being created in Horsdean.
The chairman of Patcham Football Club told the meeting that the last illegal encampment had stopped 180 local children playing football.
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