By Christina Summers
Something is frighteningly wrong when residents and small business owners tell me that their property is constantly under attack by Travellers and that they fear for their personal safety, but that the police are failing to offer any kind of protection, assurance or even presence when an incident is faithfully reported.
As ward councillor for Hollingdean and Stanmer, where the majority of incursions are taking place seemingly at a relentless frequency and increasing size, my overriding mandated duty is to advocate on behalf of local people irrespective of my own views on Travellers or the views of council officers and police. That is my job.
Since the services that deal with this issue, and that residents have paid for, aren’t working I believe it is surely now time to escalate everyone’s grievances, and I sincerely hope that my councillor and MP colleagues across the political spectrum would agree.
There is no one single solution to this so no party should ever claim to have the silver bullet, nor should any councillor work exclusively to protect their own patch – this is a citywide problem.
As such I am addressing several possibilities some of which have previously been proposed but, for some reason or other, were rejected or shelved. These include
- Designating our parks as “sensitive sites” to enable immediate eviction
- Proposing a byelaw that will protect our parks
- Appealing to neighbouring authorities to work in partnership and share the load
- Identifying unused derelict sites on the periphery as an interim solution
- Putting pressure on the police and crime commissioner to intervene and take direct urgent action
I hope that residents will encourage their ward councillors to agree to these and others as part of an urgent cross-party action plan.