|CARRY ON CAMPING | are legal sites the future for
New Age Travellers? |
After being forced to camp illegally for years,
Brighton Council are the first to introduce a legal site for New
Inside Out investigates whether the scheme has
been a success.
New Age Travellers; three words that strike fear into
the hearts of home owners and local councils alike. Yet three years ago,
Brighton Council decided to tackle the problem head on and came up with
what they believed to be a possible nation-wide solution.
term traveller Pitou oversees the Horsdean site|
Brighton Council set up a dedicated legal site for travellers,
the first of it’s kind in the country. They did it in the hope that other
councils would follow suit, providing more legal sites for travellers
to move around to.
Even though the government is now offering £8 million
for council’s to do so, others are reluctant to follow Brighton’s example.
Inside Out investigates.
Before it was set up three years ago, Horsdean on the
outskirts of Brighton was an illegal site occupied by up to 50 vehicles.
Now there are 23 clearly marked-out pitches with water and toilets provided
at a cost of £20 a week per pitch.
The main attraction for the travellers however, is not
the improved facilities, but the opportunity to pitch legally for six
Although not officially in charge, long term traveller
Pitou, oversees the site. She favours Brighton for it’s laid back attitude.
are provided at a cost of £20 a week|
"It’s quite an easy going alternative place… people don’t
shout abuse at you for having dreadlocks," says Pitou.
Good standard of living
Traveller Twig, defends their way of life. "Lots of people
can’t comprehend why you want to live in a truck….but most travellers
choose it, most travellers work and have enough money to have a good standard
In fact, research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation stresses
that the travellers place high importance on working to sustain their
life on the road.
Inside Out presenter, Paul Ross spent a chilly, rather
noisy night on the site, rising to a heavy frost and freezing water. Yet
he describes the feeling as "much like that on any residential street."
14 year old Josh and his dad Mark have always been on
the road. Josh even has his own bedroom - a separate van.
spends a chilly night on site|
Travellers say that the shared beliefs that come with
the lifestyle allow them to settle issues on site within their own community.
Herein lies the main drawback of the council-run site. The travellers
are given no choice as to who pitches next to them, so that all important
community spirit is lacking.
"This isn’t a proper travellers site, it’s like being
in an Indian reservation in America, quite controlled," Says Twig
"They’ve spent quite a lot of money on this place and
the idea is pretty good but it would have worked a lot better if they’d
just gone, here’s a field, here’s a water tap, sort your life out," says
year old Josh and his dad Mark, have always been on the road|
So this isn’t quite the ideal solution that it first seemed.
Particularly as once their six months is up, they’re breaking the law
again wherever they settle.
Had other local authorities followed suit, then a network
would have formed for travellers to move around. But as yet, there are
no plans for other councils in Kent and Sussex to develop similar sites.
Without the support from other councils, Brighton’s Horsdean
can only provide a diluted solution to the problem of housing travellers.
Whilst humanitarian issues are being addressed with the
introduction of basic facilities, the solution is only short-term. Once
their six months come to an end, travellers are once again unwillingly
forced to break the law. Freedom it seems will always come with a price.