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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 January, 2005, 20:34 GMT
Travellers stay on illegal site
Playground at illegal travellers' site
Children at local schools encourage travellers to stay
Travellers are being allowed to stay on an illegal camp at a Devon beauty spot by the local authority.

Devon County Council has tried to find legal sites but has been forced to withdraw plans after local opposition.

It leaves only illegal sites, including the one at Haldon, and the council says it will not move the travellers until it finds an alternative site.

But some local people say they feel let down by the council, which had said the site would only be temporary.

It is the gateway to the South West and it really shouldn't be there
Councillor Howard Milton
About 30 travellers have been living on the illegal site under the threat of eviction for three years.

The children living there go to local schools and a playground has been built for them.

Traveller Paul Clarke says having children in education is the main reason for staying in one place.

Another traveller says he and others have carried out work to make the site more habitable.

He said: "If we didn't know we were going to be here very long then we wouldn't be encouraged to put so much effort into making the place nice, but if we know we're here for a while then it's worth it."

Councils across the country are being told by the government to find sites for travellers but many, including Devon, find that when they do, there is opposition by residents.

Continuing search

Councillor Howard Milton says the council is trying to ensure the travellers behave reasonably.

He said: "We're trying to make sure they live up to their side of the bargain.

"It has to be said the site is an eyesore for what is designated as a site of natural beauty.

"It is the gateway to the South West and it really shouldn't be there."

But traveller Carys Blackwell says many people choose to live on the site for environmental reasons.

She said: "We're not dirty and disgusting and we don't leave our waste everywhere. We dispose of it properly and we live like this because it's a sustainable lifestyle and the planet needs that."

Although some residents say the travellers have caused few problems, they still want them moved.

Devon County Council says it is continuing its search for a suitable alternative site, but it will not move the Haldon travellers until it does.

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