New powers to order travellers out of Brighton and Hove parks could face a legal challenge, councillors were warned this afternoon (Thursday 14 July).
The warning came from Emma Nuttall, advice manager from Friends, Families and Travellers, who addressed a meeting of members and officials from Brighton and Hove City Council.
She spoke as the council’s Policy, Resources and Growth Committee met at the Friends’ Meeting House where they agreed to make a “public spaces protection order” (PSPO).
The orders are intended to tackle persistent or continuous and unreasonable anti-social behaviour.
She told the meeting: “The use of the PSPO as a mechanism for addressing the issue of unauthorised encampments in Brighton and Hove is inappropriate, unreasonable, unnecessary (and) contrary to article eight of the European Convention on Human Rights.”
She said that imposing the orders on the 12 sites would lead to unauthorised encampments more frequently elsewhere in Brighton and Hove.
And she added: “We understand that Sussex Police are concerned about their capacity to enforce these proposals.
“PSPOs were never designed to be used on unauthorised encampments. The guidance contains references to alcohol, dogs and noise but no reference to unauthorised encampments.”
She said that unauthorised encampments were happening because of a lack of authorised sites and the increasing closure of traditional stopping places.
Despite the new permanent travellers site expected to open at Horsdean this month and the reopening of the refurbished transit site for travellers, there was still a shortage of local pitches.
She also said that no other council in the country had used these powers against gypsies and travellers, adding: “You would be potentially setting a precedent for the rest of the country which we would be very keen to stop.”
She said that the council could face “strategic litigation” and she said: “It would undoubtedly lead to a legal challenge. At a time of budget cuts, is this something that you really want to do? In your report you have noted the prospect of a judicial review.”
The committee nonetheless agreed by eight votes to two to make an order covering 12 sites in Brighton and Hove.
The 12 sites are
- The Greenway next to the railway in the New England Quarter
- Hollingbury Park
- Lawn Memorial Cemetery and adjacent land in Woodingdean
- Preston Park
- Rottingdean Recreation Ground
- The seafront including the A259 from Black Rock to Hove Lagoon
- Sheepcote Valley and East Brighton Park
- St Helen’s Green
- Stanmer Park
- Surrenden Field
- Wild Park
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