POLICE officers, councillors and MP Tim Loughton held a meeting to discuss a recent influx of travellers in Adur and Worthing.
At the meeting, held earlier this month, Mr Loughton led a delegation of councillors to meet Sussex Deputy Chief Constable Giles York and local police officers.
The MP for East Worthing and Shoreham organised the meeting to explore the way Sussex Police, Adur District Council and Worthing Borough had handled the recent traveller camps at Southwick, Shoreham, Worthing, Durrington and Lancing.
“It is clear that Lancing and Worthing in particular have become a summer destination of choice for certain groups of travellers and we need to do better to deter them coming here in the future and, if they do deal, with them more swiftly,” said Mr Loughton.
The meeting was attended by Adur leader Neil Parkin, Worthing leader Paul Yallop, Lancing Parish Council chairman Ann Bridges, councillors Tom Wye and Dave Simmons and Adur and Worthing strategic director John Mitchell.
A number of questions were raised as to how so many travellers had been able to access the sites, why they had not been moved on earlier and why no prosecutions had taken place for damage caused.
Although the group felt the response by the council and police had been better than last year they still felt “much more” needed to be done.
A six-year court restriction on travellers returning to sites should help future camps to be dealt with more quickly, the meeting heard.
“Yet again, many of my constituents have been inconvenienced at best and abused at worst and then made to pick up the tab for the damage caused and the council resources involved,” said Mr Loughton.
“It is not the travellers per se that people object to but the fact that too many of them have no regard for the communities they invade and leave behind them a trail of destruction, which others have to clear up, with apparent impunity from the law.
“Other places handle travellers much more effectively and there are some clear lessons which need to be learned quickly.”
Suggestions put forward for Sussex Police to explore included: ascertaining whether all those who camped were “genuine travellers” who did not have fixed homes elsewhere, checking of registration numbers to see if vehicles are legally registered, promoting an early warning system allowing access to vulnerable sites to be blocked and greater use of CCTV at the sites.
The group also suggested monitoring trade carried out by travellers during their stays.
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