RESIDENTS have voiced concerns about a group of travellers who have set up camp at a beauty spot.
Durham County Councillor for Blackhall, Alan Cox says two caravans, along with up to four cars, believed to be an Irish gypsy or traveller family, have pitched up at Crimdon Dene.
The Labour representative has contacted Durham County Council’s Encampment Review Group with a view to getting the camp moved to an authorised site.
He said: “They are camping on the site and there’s no sanitation, so they really are parked illegally.
“I have written to the Encampment Review Group explaining that the county council have a responsibility to authorise sites for gypsy campers and that Crimdon certainly is not one of them.
“It’s not right that they should camp there, especially when there are proper sites available.
“I would hope that the legal authority take the necessary steps to have them removed to an acceptable site before anybody else moves in because they are not parked on the site legally.”
The travellers are believed to have been at the site for around two weeks and Coun Cox said residents had flagged up their concerns with him.
“We are not totally against gypsies and travellers, but there are proper legalised sites with education provided by the council and mandatory requirements including sanitation”, he added.
“It’s right near where people walk and not a place for travellers.
“There are absolutely no facilities and it is not a legal site.”
The county council oversees six gypsy and traveller sites across County Durham.
The authority’s Travellers’ Liaison Service aims to meet the needs of permanent gypsy, Roma and traveller communities residing in the county as well as those passing through.
There are sites in Stanley, Birtley, West Rainton, Coundon Grange, Bishop Auckland and Ferryhill.
Gerald Tompkins, Durham County Council’s head of social inclusion, said: “We are aware of an unauthorised encampment at Crimdon and are currently preparing to issue the Travellers with a Direction to Leave notice.
“We are hopeful that they will have moved by the end of the week.”