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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 July, 2004, 15:15 GMT 16:15 UK
New strategy for traveller sites
A new traveller site may be established in East Sussex following plans to develop a county-wide strategy for managing unauthorised sites.

Two further sites - at Southerham in Lewes and Swan Barn in Hailsham - may also be upgraded.

The proposals, drawn up by East Sussex County Council, follow recent changes to the law on unauthorised camping.

Police can now move travellers off private land if the landowner asks them to or if suitable sites are available.

'Fair and balanced'

A traveller liaison officer is due to be appointed to help co-ordinate the approach towards the issue.

Councillor Peter Jones, leader of the county council, said: "The problem of unauthorised camping cannot be settled until the county has enough pitches or transit sites.

"The strategy to achieve this end needs to be effective and implementation should be fair and balanced towards both residents and travellers."

The proposals drawn up by the council, which is working together with the police and district and borough authorities, are based on figures collected over the past four months.

A database tracking the movement of travellers in the county was set up in May to determine whether further sites might be needed.

Over four months, 27 unauthorised encampments were identified.

These were made up of eight to 10 caravans and involved an average stay of five or six days.

The figures did not include a group of 40 or 50 vehicles belonging to New Age travellers which were camped at Phie Forest, Crowborough, or an encampment in Laughton on Gypsy-owned land.

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