From The Argus –
The first residents have now moved in to the city’s new £2.3 million permanent traveller site.
Work on Brighton and Hove City Council‘s permanent traveller site at Horsdean has been completed with the first families moving in last week.
Leading councillors in the Labour administration said the opening of the permanent site and the imminent reopening of the adjacent temporary site would help the council deal more effectively with unauthorised encampments.
But opposition councillors have warned that the 21 pitch transit site might not be sufficient during the busy summer leaving the city back at square one.
The reopening of the transit site will make it easier for police and council officials to use powers to move on travellers from parks and other green spaces.
New Public Space Protection Orders allowing for the swifter removal of encampments from 12 sites across the city, agreed by councillors earlier this month, are not likely to be active until the end of the year.
The delay to the introduction of the powers, the first time nationally the PSPOs have been used in connection with travellers, will allow council officers to receive training and for signs to be placed around affected areas.
The newly-opened permanent traveller site has 12 pitches with space for a static caravan and other vehicles with a kitchen, bathroom and lounge in an adjoining amenity block.
The site also includes a management building for the council’s traveller liaison team.
The pitches have all been allocated to traveller families with a local link, many who previously occupied spaces on the transit site.
Residents will sign a lease and pay rent of between £80 and £96 a week depending on the size of their pitch as well as council tax and other bills.
The project has cost £2.3 million with the majority of funding coming from the Government with costs rising by more than £600,000 because of the site’s proximity to the city’s water table and inflation in building costs.
Councillor Gill Mitchell, chairwoman of the environment, transport and sustainability committee said: “We are pleased that work on our permanent traveller site at St Michael’s Way, Horsdean, is now complete and we have welcomed the first families.
“Freeing up the transit pitches will help the council to deal with unauthorised encampments in the city.”
Conservative councillor Lee Wares said: “Once the transit site is reopened then police will be able again to use their powers under section 62 if there is space and there will be no excuses not to use it.
“But if we have lots of travelling families in the city between now and Christmas, and the transit site is full, we will be back to where we were before.”