It happens every summer - and seems to have become worse since we had an elected council with the Green Party in the majority. I try to keep politics out of this blog on the grounds that (a) my political views are my own affair and I'm not obliged to broadcast them to the world, and (b) politics is one of the three subjects that should not be mentioned around the dinner tables of society, the other two being religion and money. But I'll make an exception in this case. Having said that, I will freely - indeed, even happily - admit that the Greens are not entirely to blame. I expect that some of the blame must rest with some commissar or other in Brussels. Whoops, here go with politics again!
Every year Brighton is invaded. During the early autumn there is often a party conference, and if the political parties give the city the cold shoulder there are almost certainly other groups who will be happy to spend a few days by the sea. The high summer sees an influx of foreign students spending a few weeks here, ostensibly to improve their English but they seem more intent on partying and generally have a good time. OK, so both political party conferences and large numbers of foreign students can have a disruptive effect on life in the city but, quite frankly, neither impact much on me and both conferences and students contribute to the local economy. What does cause me disruption and makes me hot under the collar is the swarm of travellers who set up illegal encampments in our parks and other open spaces around the city.
Let's be perfectly reasonable about this. Well, I think I am, anyway. I have no problem with people living a nomadic lifestyle per se if that is their choice. I don't understand quite how they expect to live a modern life-style in a developed country, with satellite television and mobile phones, but that is not my problem. If they spent a night or two at the side of the road - in small groups - and moved on leaving nothing but their thanks, I'm sure I would have no cause to be upset.
What does annoy me is that they park up on a public park in groups of 20 or 30 caravans, stay for anything up to six weeks before they can be ejected legally, and leave mountains of rubbish when they do go. Or the council will provide large wheelie bins for their rubbish, which is probably cheaper than employing contractors to clean up the site later. And all this is, of course, at the expense of the local council tax payer.
I did read something put out by our local council (the Green Party) telling us that travellers deserve our care and compassion because they have shorter life expectancy and poor education. I really blew my top when I read that; after all, it's not exactly my fault that they choose a life-style that causes those problems. And why should travellers expect to benefit from free health care, education and rubbish removal when they make no contribution towards the cost?
At some point every summer, and quite often in the winter too, but the summer is particularly prone to the problem, one or more of my usual routes for walking the dog becomes unavailable to me as the travellers have descended with their aggressive dogs and their mess.
But enough already. Except for a picture I took yesterday showing the illegal encampment on the Waterhall valley playing fields. This was taken from about a mile away so I don't claim it is a brilliant picture but it does illustrate the problem.