Travellers site has cut number of unauthorised camps, council says

Councillors calling for action to remove tents and move travellers on from public parks were told that the numbers were falling.

Conservative councillors Anne Meadows and Dawn Barnett shared their concerns about tents pitched in Valley Gardens, Brighton, and groups of travellers staying in parks rather than using the transit site in Patcham.

Councillor Meadows questioned whether Brighton and Hove City Council’s adoption of the “Homeless Bill of Rights” had led to a change of policy on removing tents from public spaces.

Spacewords Brighton

She said: “I am concerned that this new policy is restricting the ability that officers once had to remove tents and keep parks and public places free for the safe enjoyment of residents.

“Residents’ associations such as the Old Steine Community Association are deeply concerned about the lack of action from the council on tents in this area.”

Councillor Meadows said that tents were pitched in Valley Gardens for extended periods, with the occupiers putting out tables and chairs, contrary to promises that tents would not be permitted.

She spoke out at a meeting of the council’s Housing Committee at Hove Town Hall yesterday (Wednesday 28 September).

Green councillor David Gibson, who co-chairs the Housing Committee, said that the number of rough sleepers was once again on the rise.

This was reversing the progress made during the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns, he said, when the government’s “Everyone In” policy led to empty hotels being used to house the homeless.

And he said that the loss of most “No Second Night Out” beds over the summer had made matters worse but he hoped that these places would be restored.

In reply to Councillor Meadows, he said that there were no plans to reconsider the “Homeless Bill of Rights”.

It includes sections on respecting homeless people’s personal property, such as tents, and not throwing their belongings away.

Councillor Gibson said: “The council will not tolerate unauthorised encampments in the city and tents will be removed as quickly as possible.

“My impression is that the number of tents hasn’t increased over the previous year. It feels slightly less but it is subjective and we haven’t got figures.”

He said that council officials and street outreach workers always tried to work with people in tents to check if they were homeless and in need of help and support.

Councillor Barnett asked what action had been taken recently to direct travellers to the council’s transit site in St Michael’s Way, Patcham.

Councillor Gibson said that the families camped at St Helen’s Park, in Hangleton, earlier this month were asked to move to the transit site.

But they refused to leave the park – known locally as th Green – so they were ordered to leave Brighton and Hove and not return for a year.

Currently, 10 of the transit site’s 21 pitches were available, the meeting was told. This was half the usual number because of covid-19 distancing restrictions. This year, on average half of the plots were occupied.

Travellers pitched up in Preston Park in May

Councillor Gibson said that council figures indicated that, since the transit site opened in 2016, unauthorised traveller encampments had fallen.

They went from a high of 123 in 2015 and 79 in 2016, when the site opened, to 18 this year. He added that the average length of an unauthorised encampment was currently three days.

  1. Mike Beasley Reply

    Travellers – guests of the Greens

    • James Reply

      Displaced by the tories

      • Mike Beasley Reply

        How come the travellers have expensive cars and large caravans?

  2. Adam Reply

    You really can track the decline of the city from when the greens managed to originally gain power. Kitcat now working for the Tories in the Department of International trade. Send him the bill for the I360.

  3. Chris Reply

    I think that people need to deal with the varied groups differently.
    Old fashioned travelers (Romas etc) are well understood and have different needs (places to park, education, rubbish collection etc) This category seems to like larger areas as multiple caravans arrive onto a site, normally a field, park or large car-park. They work on the basis that it takes a number of days to be “moved on”. Traditionally this is the group that is targeted by the provision of “transit” camps.

    The “new age” travelers are generally people who have converted a van (or lorry/bus) or have an old motorhome and are enjoying the freedom of spending most or if not all of their time moving about and meeting like-minded people. They seem to gravitate towards small car parks, unregulated parking and lay-bys. Some stay a few days, others a few weeks. They generally do not get moved on as they go largely undetected by the authorities.

    The tent dwellers seem to be split between those wanting to make or having to make some sort of statement by pitching in a town center, or those that enjoy the new hobby of “secret camping” whereby the stay is short lived as they continue their “walkabout” the UK. Some are just on holiday but cannot afford campsites.

    Speaking about “travelers” in such broad terms is not very helpful.

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