District Council Vow To Fight To Gain Control Of Traveller Site In Burgess Hill
27th February 2013
Local residents met at the Watermill pub on Wednesday morning as Cllr Pru Moore along with District Council leader Gary Wall, came to address the state of play regarding the traveller site next to Bedelands Farm nature reserve.
Earlier this month the land went up for auction. The guide price was £15-£20k. There was a condition on the land that it had to be leased back to Mid Sussex District Council for £500p.a
Mid Sussex District Council wanted to buy the land from British Rail before it went to auction. However, British Rail weren't interested as they were of the belief that the land was worth £200k.
The land sold at auction for £147.5k. The buyer is a traveller. Apparently he didn't really know what he was buying and the conditions on the land. It's believed he purchased the land with the intention of moving his 'family' to the site;.
The buyer and his 'agent' have met with the council to see where they stand legally on what can be done with the land. He's been told to stay away from the traveller site unless he is accompanied by a member of the council. He's not allowed to make contact with any of the residents or make any demands.
The current residents
The council are fully behind the current residents and will do all they can to help protect them and to ensure they remain untroubled from the new owner. There have been discussions with the police. Gates have been ordered for the Leylands Road entry to the site. The council are determined to take control of the land and keep the site as it is.
Mid Sussex District Council's current lease
The lease that Mid Sussex District Council had with British Rail ran out in 2004. Since then it's just been rolling over each year. Could they have made more of an effort to have got something long term put in place or were they just too complacent?
What happens now?
The buyer has until March 15th to complete his purchase. The auction house could extend this deadline.
If he chooses to bail out, he'd lose his 10% deposit and may end up getting sued by the auctioneers OR the auctioneers could turn to the next highest bidder, which would be Mid Sussex District Council.
The new owner of the land could take the council to court and try to have the lease terminated. However, the District Council lawyers think they'd have a strong case for the lease to stay in place but can't guarantee a victory.
MSDC have not ruled out envoking a compulsory purchase order to obtain the land from the new owner.
It's a case of wait and see what the buyer decides to do.
Councillors In Attendance
For those that wish to know about your local councillors. District councillor Graham Knight (Lib Dem) and town councillor David Andrews (Labour) were both in attendance. 'Publicity' Pru Moore (Conservative) ran the meeting and MSDC leader Gary Wall was also present.
Readers need to be aware that what we were told at the meeting was what the council want us to know. Pru Moore seemed keen for people not to be panicked. There could be more to this story than their letting on. If you know different information than what's listed above, then feel free to email us confidentially firstname.lastname@example.org
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A local resident at the meeting described the situation as Mid Sussex District Council playing poker and losing. Another pondered how costly this could end up being for the council compared to if they'd just purchased the site outright? What are your thoughts on the situation?