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Daily Archives: 7 January 2012
Doubtless many people will be amazed that this “assault” was even recorded. With only a few days to go before judgment in the Occupy the London Stock Exchange eviction case is promulgated, I cannot help wondering whether Mr Justice Lindblom might also be wondering the same thing.
Prior to the most recent local elections, Brighton & Hove Green Party campaigned on various issues but the one which attracted most attention was their promise to find a permanent site for the Travellers who encamp around the City. They were the only party to have a definite policy on the issue locally. The Liberal Democrats (a spent force locally with no councillors) and the Labour Party have remained silent on the issue. The local Conservative Party reacted by organising a racist campaign against Travellers. The Greens determination to find a solution to the problem of these people having had their traditional lifestyle extinguished by modernity generated national press attention, little of which was favourable. Nevertheless the Greens have stuck to their promise, despite being a minority administration. Brighton & Hove now has an official policy for Travellers (153K PDF download at that link).
The policy had two stages. The first was a transitional stage, during which Travellers were asked to sign good neighbour compacts. The second is the establishment of a permanent site. The first stage meant that where there were problems, the Travellers could be moved on. True to its word the City Council did move on Travellers who caused problems, notably those who set up camp in the City’s parks. Official figures reveal that the average time it took to move on those who the City Council wished to remove was cut in half. The Greens argue that this proves the value of having an actual policy to deal with the issue. It seems that they may have a point – knowing where the parties stand on any one piece of ground has caused an efficiency hitherto unseen when the Conservative Party ran Brighton & Hove.
Pete West, the Green Cabinet Member for Environment and Sustainability in Brighton & Hove City Council declared that he intended to announce a favoured site by Christmas 2011. A consultation exercise was launched. Various proposed sites were put forward – more than 50 were considered. Some of these were inside the South Downs National Park. When the consultation exercise concluded, the results pointed to a place at Horsdean as being the best for a permanent Traveller site. Here’s the City Council’s Press Release on the Horsdean site. There is an existing transit site there for Travellers. It will be expanded. The photograph above shows that it is separated from a large residential area by the Brighton bypass which is an A-Road masquerading as a motorway and a little distance from some other houses at the other end of Braypool Lane. The photograph doesn’t reveal that it is in a little natural valley (properly speaking a coombe) on the downland and, consequently, very discreetly situated.
The City Council has a £1.7m government grant to develop the site. Since it is inside the South Downs National Park, the planning application will have to be decided by the National Park’s Planning Committee rather than the City Council. The decision is expected in March 2012. A pitch on a permanent traveller site is just the same as a council house insofar as the residents are responsible for paying their rent, utilities and council tax. What’s not to like?