The man running a horse rescue centre in Stanmer Park said that he fears for his life after a series of attacks on his animals and property.
He said that the incidents coincided with gypsies and travellers being in the park, with some of them harassing him at his stables.
The incidents include
- one horse having its face slashed
- a foal being doped
- a shire horse having its mane hacked and its neck stabbed
- fences being broken, leaving a field insecure
- people trying to steal horses by walking them out of the rescue centre field
- a man forcing open a horse’s jaw to inspect it, injuring the horse’s mouth
- a brick being thrown into the yard, scattering the horses that were there
- the theft of the quad bike used for harrowing
- other machinery also being taken
- the brakes on Mr Cross’s car being cut
His colleague Emma Holloway, 30, from Southwick, said: “They were threatening to kill my kids. A big brick came over and all the horses scattered.”
She said that she managed to take pictures of another incident, adding: “I had photographic evidence but the police haven’t come to look at it.”
Mr Cross said: “With all the extra vet’s bills for all the injuries they’ve caused, I almost folded this winter.”
Some of the vet’s bills resulted from caring for four of the 40 rescued horses which were abandoned in Wild Park in Moulsecoomb in a poor condition. He believes that the four horses were left there by travellers and that they had to be nursed back to health.
Another of the horses, called Myler, has a scarred nose from an attack four months ago. Mr Cross said that Myler’s broken nose alone cost £3,500 and he needed continuing treatment.
He said: “The police do nothing. I caught people hacking off the gate and called the police. They were arrested but I wasn’t called to give evidence. They got a £400 fine.
“I worry that I’ll be found dead here one morning. It’s very scary.”
This week Sussex Police have sent police community support officers to the stables, with a vehicle visible in the stable yard.
Councillor Christina Summers, who represents Hollingdean and Stanmer on Brighton and Hove City Council, is to meet senior council officers and police officers today (Friday 20 June) and on Monday (23 June).
The council obtained a county court order for possession of the land and yesterday (Thursday 19 June) evicted about 300 people in the 70 or so vehicles that remained in Stanmer Park.
On Sunday (22 June) the park is due to host the annual Sussex Festival of Nature from 11am to 5pm.
Those who left yesterday are believed to have entered Happy Valley Park in Woodingdean and the pitch and putt course in Rottingdean.
On Wednesday (18 June) just three caravans occupied two of the ten pitches that are available at the transit site for gypsies and travellers at Horsdean on the edge of Patcham. More pitches would be available were it not for drainage problems.
The Brighton and Hove Independent free weekly newspaper today (Friday 20 June) called for “renewed attempts to find a solution that is more ambitious than the pointless cat-and-mouse game that sees council officers and police pursuing travellers from park to park”.
And the newspaper carried a proposal by Tony Coyle, a respected figure in the gypsy community, who suggested that self-managed – leased or privately owned – sites may be part of the answer.
It also said that Mr Coyle was ready to meet councilors, some of whom – like Councillor Christina Summers – may be prepared to listen rather than simply channel and champion the fury of residents.
To read Tony Coyle’s proposal, click here.
To read what Christina Summers, the ward councillor for Stanmer Park, has to say, click here.