Teignbridge District Council's cash offer to get travellers to move sites
A cash-strapped council is offering travellers £500 to spend on their caravans if they move off an illegal campsite.
Teignbridge District Council is spending £1.1 million on an alternative home for the 15 families currently living on Haldon Hill, near Exeter.
But despite offering individual plots of land, allotments, a children's play area, and environmentally friendly features such as composting bins, most of the travellers want to stay put.
The local authority is now offering them each £500 to upgrade their vehicles and caravans as an inducement to move to the new site, currently under construction. but the move has angered locals, who say the handouts come as local services face severe cutbacks and austerity measures.
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For the past 12 years, Haldon Hill has been home to caravans, old buses, huts and shelters housing up to 100 travellers, causing tensions with the local community.
Following a ten-year struggle to find a solution, Teignbridge District Council won a massive government grant to upgrade facilities and build a legal camp in nearby Haldon Ridge. It expected travellers to jump at the chance to upgrade to the new-look camp, but only a handful of families signed up.
Local campaigner Dudley Swain said the £500 handouts would leave council tax payers "pretty miffed". But the council defended the use of public money, saying it would help the new camp progress and enable the old site to be reclaimed more quickly.
The funds can only be used on roadworthy vehicles.