South Harting villagers protest as police escort mobile home to disputed travellers’ site

Villagers in South Harting were enraged when police escorted a mobile home through the village to what they claim is an “illegal” travellers site today (Friday February 10).

Villagers booed and shook their fists as the convoy escorting the 15 foot wide mobile home made its way through South Harting to Three Cornered Piece in East Harting, a field where the Department of Communities and Local Government has ruled that caravans there are already illegal. An appeal has gone to the Supreme Court.

Parish council chairman David Barnard said: ‘It’s a fait accompli and we are stuck with it – but that doesn’t make it feel any better. We could have staged a bigger protest but had to boil it down to the fact that the police had a job to do.

“There’s quite a lot of ill feeling around. If it was going to be two vans kept clean and tidy there would not be much objection, but two leads to 12 and then 24 and before you know it, we have another Dale Farm on our hands.”

A spokesman for Sussex Police said: “Police recognise the local sensitivities around this issue. We are playing a minor role in the event, carrying out our responsibility to help escort abnormal loads for safety reasons.

“As part of the normal process when we escort abnormal loads for safety reasons, the haulage company pays for this support. Two police officers are used to accompany loads of this nature and work on changed rest days, so that there is no reduction in officers carrying out their usual duties.”

“We fully understand residents’ concerns regarding the delivery of a new mobile home,” said a spokesman for Chichester District Council.

“We have taken action in a number of different ways. There is currently a planning stop notice which prohibits more than two mobile homes and any engineering work on the land. We know that one of the mobile homes has been removed.

“We have also served an enforcement notice requiring the removal of the mobile homes from the land, which the owners appealed against. The Secretary of State dismissed the appeal, but this is now the subject of a High Court challenge.”