Travellers evicted from Brighton site over water contamination concerns

Posted On 02 May 2015 at 10:33 pm

A group of travellers were evicted from a site in Brighton after concerns were raised about the possibility of water supply contamination.

About 15 caravans and trailers arrived at Surrenden Field, off London Road, Brighton, on Wednesday (29 April) after leaving Hove Lawns, in Kingsway, near the King Alfred Leisure Centre.

According to Sussex Police, they left within 24 hours having been asked to leave because of concerns about possible contamination of a water aquifer at the site.

The police used their powers under section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.

Travellers on Hove Lawns early on Wednesday evening (29 April)

Travellers on Hove Lawns early on Wednesday evening (29 April)

Brighton and Hove City Council said: “Around 15 trailers moved on to Surrenden Field on Wednesday night.

“Following a joint visit with police yesterday, and discussions with Southern Water, the police used section 61 powers to evict them last night.

“This action was taken because of Southern Water infrastructure on the site.

“The travellers have now moved on to land at Hollingbury Park where a site visit is being carried out with the police to conduct a community impact assessment and to assess what the most appropriate enforcement action is to take.

“While the encampment remains we will continue to monitor the site with the police.”

The encampment in Hollingbury Park was one of six in Brighton and Hove when the council issued an update yesterday (Friday 1 May).

The update said: “Unauthorised encampment of Irish Travellers on land at Hollingbury Park – A group of Irish travellers have moved on to land at Hollingbury Park after being evicted from land at Surrenden Field. We will be visiting this site this morning with the police to conduct a community impact assessment and to assess what the most appropriate enforcement action is to take. While the encampment remains we will continue to monitor the site with the police.

“Unauthorised encampment of van dwellers on land adjacent to Racehill Allotments – A group of van dwellers remain encamped on this land. A joint visit, with the police, has been made, and a community impact assessment has been carried out. The occupants have been informed they are trespassing on council-owned land and have been asked to leave. We will be applying to the county court for a possession order on Friday 1 May which will enable us to arrange for an eviction to be carried out early next week should the occupants fail to leave the site voluntarily. While the encampment remains we will continue to monitor the site with the police.

“Unauthorised encampment of van dwellers on land adjacent to Chalk Hill car park, Stanmer Park – We have visited this site with the police and health and welfare checks and a community impact assessment have been carried out. The group have been informed they are trespassing on council-owned land and have been asked to leave. We will be applying to the county court for a possession order which will enable us to carry out an eviction as soon as practicable.

“Unauthorised encampment of Irish travellers on land at Stanmer Park – We have visited this site with the police and health and welfare checks and a community impact assessment have been carried out. The group have been informed they are trespassing on council-owned land and have been asked to leave. We will be applying to the county court for a possession order which will enable us to carry out an eviction as soon as practicable.

“Unauthorised encampment of van dwellers on land at the top of Wilson Avenue – A section 77 notice (Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994) has been served on the vehicles directing them to leave. This has not been complied with so we will be applying to the magistrates’ court for an order which will allow us to arrange for an eviction to be carried out.

“Unauthorised encampment of travellers on land adjacent to Braypool Lane – A section 77 notice (Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994) has been served on the vehicles directing them to leave. This has not been complied with so we will be applying to the magistrates’ court for an order which will allow us to arrange for an eviction to be carried out.”

  1. Geoff Reply

    Does anyone know what exactly the water contamination issue was? Because if it’s run-off from the veichles, then I’m wondering how it was okay that today the same site seemed to be being used as a car park?

    Also, if they were tresspassing and that’s why they were removed, then why does the headline highlight these ‘water contamination concerns’? Surely the land ownership is the main reason?

    • feline1 Reply

      Indeed – absolutely bizarre incredulous reporting from Frank “le Duc” here. Brighton has one chalk acquifer under it (go read the “one planet” info boards by Hove Lawns) and it’s what comes out of our taps. What the hell have we been drinking?!? What is this “contamination”? Was it caused by the travellers? How are they able to drill bore-holes to the acquifer anyways?!? ARRRRRRRRRGH

      • L Woolven Reply

        feline1 – there is already a borehole there which is why the area has the Environment Agenices protection zone called an SPZ1, or Source protection zone 1 which means it should be afforded the highest protection. Do you understand the difference between the words aquifer, borehole or adit? The whole of brighton is on an aquifer but certain areas are at much higher risk i.e. the actual collection points for our drinking water. These locations were chosen for the likliehood of collecting substantial amounts of water for human consumption. The locations of adits were chosen to exploit the fractures and fissures in the chalk to increase the yield and as such are more vulnerable to pollution than other areas of the aquifer where the chalk acts as a natural filter. This is why septic tanks are prohibited in such zones. This is the same as a large group of people living without any sanitation. To my mind, a Green council especially should have acted on this a long time ago if they are so keen on protecting the environment. We have already had Brighton sources closed down in the past and we are coming close to legal/safe limits for contaminants such as nitrates, which with regards to health implications are serious. In this location there are also risk from fuel spills, yes from vehicles, but mainly from refuelling of generators, always seen in use without drip trays. This is why the travelling community pose a higher that normal risk but the risk applies to all members of the community. It shouldn’t be used as a car park and I believe that the first comment above is incorrect since having contacted locals and from driving past there myself, no one is aware of any cars having been parked there but if this is the case, it should be prevented in the future with just as much vigour. The rules should apply to all, not just one section of society.

        • Geoff Reply

          L Woolven: I was talking about the Hove Lawns site mentioned and pictured in the article. I just ran past the same site earlier and it is still being used as a car park for many vehicles, I’m guessing related to the food festival further along.

          • L Woolven

            Geoff, confusing as mention of and picture of Hove Lawns but the story is about the Section 61 served at Surrenden Field which is where the risk to the water is. Eviction from Hove Lawns, was as you say, more due to land ownership

  2. Bob Reply

    Why not just evict them because they should not be encamped there.

    Every time they evict the travellers, they should also apply for an injunction against them trespassing on other council land, to stop the continuous merry go round of moing from one site to another while they take their free holiday in Brighton.

  3. Rosemary Waters Reply

    Are you referring to Surrenden Field being used as a car park after the travellers had left or mixing it up with another site? There is no evidence of it being used for vehicles apart from by the travellers – the gate remained secure and the only way in would have been by bumping up the kerb off the A23 London Road using the access through the length of wooden barrier cut out by the travellers. Surrenden Field is the piece of ‘public open space’ on the corner of Surrenden Crescent and London Road.

    Southern Water have a public water supply borehole on the site and the area has a formally designated high level of protection against pollution for that reason. Southern Water have installed new covers to the borehole in recent months confirming their concern.

    The Council frequently use their land ownership as the reason to evict travellers, but they choose to use a lengthy process which is inappropriate on many of the sites used by travellers due to the risk of water contamination.

  4. Lee Woolven Reply

    Feline1, do you know the difference between an aquifer, an adit and a borehole? The whole of Brighton and Hove is over an aquifer. There are just certain locations call SPZ1’s or source protection zones with the figure 1 given to those in the most sensitive area. These areas were chosen long ago as the best locations from which to source drinking water. Adits or huge tunnels were mined, many metres under the ground in an effort to seek out water by exploiting the many cracks and fissures within the chalk. These areas allow rapid pathways for water to travel to the adit in order to be pumped. This is why these areas are afforded special protection as the pathways bypass the normal filtering action of the chalk allowing contaminants the same easy path. What we don’t want bypassing the filtering system is human waste which is why septic tanks are not permitted by the Environment Agency in these location, or fuel spills. This is why unauthorised encampments with a lack of sanitation, there are no toilets in the trailers, and the unrestricted refuelling of generators poses a high risk of pollution. The travellers aren’t drilling the boreholes or mining for water (this is very unlikely to ever happen again so existing infrastructure will never be replaced) The boreholes and adits are already there. If you want further reading, look at the research from Brighton University’s Flood 1 project and Climawat and the many other learned papers that exist. Yes Travellers are a higher risk than other park users and not their fault and no, the area should never be used as a car park and having consulted with local residents, all deny any presence of cars over this weekend or at any other time.

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