Page last updated at 13:26 GMT, Monday, 2 May 2005 14:26 UK

Traveller fears inflate land cost

Householders are buying a wood at a price inflated nearly four times its market value to prevent travellers setting up an illegal camp on the land.

About 100 residents paid 75,000 for a four-acre plot expected to cost 20,000 when the owner put it up for auction.

Residents in Billericay, Essex, said they had to act because of fears that travellers soon to be evicted from a nearby illegal site would move there.

The travellers must leave their camp on 13 May after a long legal battle.

'Keep land safe'

Householders have bought 500 shares in a company, Linksland, which is now the registered owner of the site.

Retired publisher, Francis McCafferty, 85, who contributed 5,000, said: "We had heard the Gypsies were going to move in, so that was it.

"We felt we had to act to keep the land safe for the future.

"We were very worried about what was going to happen and this has given us peace of mind. Now the land will be used for the community to enjoy."

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