Search to find 59 traveller pitches in Chichester District

130752-1 Chi Caravans  phot kate''Caravans parked on Oaklands Park.Picture by Kate Shemilt.C130752-1
130752-1 Chi Caravans phot kate''Caravans parked on Oaklands Park.Picture by Kate Shemilt.C130752-1

A BID to ease tension between travellers and local communities has left Chichester District Council with the task of finding nearly 60 pitches.

The council has been set the highest target – 59 – of any authority in coastal West Sussex.

“The existing traveller population of Chichester is higher than other authorities in coastal West Sussex,” said a report compiled by consultants peterbrett (pba).

Chichester, which did not include provision for pitches in the draft local plan earlier this year, has been advised to find 37 of the temporary pitches by 2017.

The report led to debate at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday with Cllr Josef Ransley expressing concern about where the new pitches would be provided.

“I hope we aren’t being opportunistic and providing these camps in areas of least resistance,” he said.

Council leader Heather Caird said the council needed to take urgent action over site provision.

“The county council are aware of the problem and we need to move it forward,” she said. “There is a lot more to do.”

At the same time as the meeting took place, the issue of illegal encampments was once again brought to the fore as the district council attempted to remove travellers from Oaklands Park. “We served notice on a group of travellers on Oaklands Park on Monday, June 3, asking them to leave by 5pm on Tuesday, June 4,” said a council spokeswoman.

“Unfortunately, they have still not left the park and so we have issued a summons in Worthing Magistrates’ Court. The council will be seeking an order authorising officers to evict the travellers from the site.”

This week also saw yet another parish council facing a clean-up bill after an illegal encampment on its land.

Tangmere Parish Council was left to cope with the cost after travellers left human waste behind a garage.

Parish councillor Phil Thomas said: “We already have 22 permanent pitches to the east of Tangmere. Other areas have to provide facilities similar to us.

“Provision has to be fair, but this can’t continue.”