Westhampnett site gets Chichester District Council cabinet approval

The Westhampnett Depot, soon to be redeveloped. Picture by Kate Shemilt C131529-1
The Westhampnett Depot, soon to be redeveloped. Picture by Kate Shemilt C131529-1
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A TRANSIT travellers site in Westhampnett looks set to be pushed forward, giving police powers to deal with illegal camps.

Details of the proposed nine pitches at the Westhampnett depot were unveiled last week by Chichester District Council.

“This is a potential solution to a long-term issue in the district which has vexed authorities and residents alike,” cabinet member for corporate services and communications Josef Ransley said at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday (December 3).

Westhampnett residents will hear more details of any impacts on their community at an open meeting at the March Primary School, in Claypit Lane, at 7pm on Monday (December 9).

“I’m sure the local community are very concerned about the prospect of this but we need to reassure them that this will be properly managed and properly structured so that it can keep the effect on the community to an absolute minimum,” said leader of the council Heather Caird,

She said she had been ‘very keen’ the council do something to tackle the issue for some time.

“It’s been a really difficult summer this year and indeed in the last two or three summers.

“The police have been unable to help us very much because of the lack of a alternative location for these people to move to.

“We in Chichester have had the greatest incursions this year over the district.

“We have it more sharply in our headlights perhaps than others.”

Cabinet unanimously recommended the scheme to full council.

If the proposed £1.3m site overcomes all the obstacles in its way – it is aimed to be completed by early 2015.

All other councils in the county are expected to share the costs and chief executive Diane Shepherd indicated she received strong verbal assurances from other chief executives they were on board. She emphasised a multi-agency approach was required.

If West Sussex has a transit site, police could use powers under section 62 of the criminal justice act to move travellers on from illegal sites to the transit site, or ask them to leave the county.