Families fear eviction after sale of homes site

Bedelands Caravan Park, Burgess Hill
Bedelands Caravan Park, Burgess Hill

Families who settled at Burgess Hill are worried they might lose their homes after the sale of their traveller site to a private buyer at auction.

Land leaseholder Mid Sussex Council is holding talks with the buyer to try to ease their concerns.

A man from the travelling fraternity won a bid for the strip of British Railways Board land near Bedelands Nature Reserve, parallel to the London Brighton rail line.

The families live on ten plots, paying rent to West Sussex County Council, which runs the site on behalf of Mid Sussex District Council.

Despite bad publicity elsewhere about illegally-camping travellers, the people at Bedelands are long-term residents with Romany connections and have a good relationship with neighbours.

The Middy received calls from neighbours supporting the families and meetings were held at the Watermill pub at World’s End to discuss concerns with local people.

The district council, which many years ago was granted a lease on the land, bidded for the land but was limited to £145,000.

It is thought after the payment of VAT the winning private bid will cost about £200,000 to complete, a 10 per cent deposit having been paid as is usual. The land was valued at only about £35,000.

Families living there are concerned that they might be moved off by new owners and their plots sold off individually, with new people moving in. If that happened the district council would be faced with expensive re-housing of the families.

Site resident Alfie Smith, 53, who attended the London auction, said: “We don’t want to be moved from here. My grandmother lived here for 62 years. But I understand there was some clause that they can’t evict tenants and can’t collect rent.”

See Ward councillor Pru Moore’s comments below