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Katy Bourne vows to tackle issue of travellers ‘invasions’

Problems caused by travellers “invading” land should be swiftly sorted out by the new Police and Crime Commissioner for Sussex.

That is the view of Katy Bourne, Conservative candidate for the new role, who many political observers expect to be declared the winner when the votes from today’s election are counted tomorrow (Friday).

Mrs Bourne and Nick Herbert, Tory MP for Arundel and South Downs, visited Pulborough on Saturday to hear about the problems that residents say travellers have caused.

Residents of Arun Prospect, off Station Road in the village, contacted their MP to catalogue their concerns about fly-tipping, antisocial behaviour and the treatment of horses in nearby fields. After months in which they tried to persuade the authorities to take action, residents expressed their anger during a public meeting organised by Mr Herbert in April.

Gillian Harris, of the Pulborough Local Action Team, told The Resident this week: “The residents of Pulborough endured over a year of witnessing animal cruelty, fly-tipping and antisocial behaviour. Despite reporting the various problems to the relevant authorities, we found ourselves in a vicious circle of agencies all pointing the finger of responsibility at each other.

“This resulted in many residents feeling that no one was helping and no one cared. With an elected Police Commissioner in place to aid channels of communication and mutual co-operation, I hope this situation will not recur and offenders will be brought to account swiftly.”

Mrs Bourne said: “I was very pleased to meet Mrs Harris to hear about the problems she and local residents encountered over an 18-month period. Local communities are infuriated by the invasion of land by travellers and frustrated by the length of time it takes to deal with the problem. The law-abiding who play by the rules are being let down.

“This is one of the key issues which emerged in my survey of residents. As Police and Crime Commissioner for Sussex I would be determined to ensure that these problems were tackled more effectively.”

Mr Herbert, pictured with Mrs Harris (centre) and Mrs Bourne, told The Resident: “This is exactly the kind of problem which I think the new post of Police and Crime Commissioner will help to sort out. Local residents are upset enough when travellers invade land, but when the authorities fail to deal with the issue and it’s just passed from one official to the next, people understandably get even more irritated.

“After this Thursday (today), there will be a figure in Sussex who people can go to for help, who will have the power to get things done, and who will be accountable to local communities. I think that will be a huge step forward. I’m impressed that Katy Bourne has already taken up this issue which concerns us in our West Sussex villages.”

Four other candidates are standing for election – Tony Armstrong (UKIP), Ian Chisnall (Independent), Godfrey Daniel (Labour) and David Rogers (Liberal Democrat).

Labour is hoping to do well in major population centres such as Brighton and Hove, Crawley and Hastings, while the Lib Dems have significant support in Eastbourne and Lewes, where they won parliamentary seats in the 2010 general election. But 13 of the 16 Sussex MPs are Conservatives, most with large majorities, so it would take a political earthquake for anyone other than Mrs Bourne to be elected.

Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) elections are taking place in each of the 41 police areas in England (excluding London) and Wales.

PCCs will replace local police authorities, including the 17-member Sussex Police Authority. They will not run the police, but will be responsible for holding the Chief Constable to account. They will be able to produce a police and crime plan setting out local policing priorities, set the local policing budget and decide how money will be spent, and appoint or sack the Chief Constable.

The next PCC elections are due to take place in May 2016 – about three-and-a-half years from now. Labour originally opposed the introduction of PCCs, but it will assess the success of the change before explaining its position before the 2015 general election.

What do you think? Email matthew@the-resident.co.uk to have your say.

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