Residents' plea to council to move on caravan dwellers
Moves are under way to clear an illegal settlement of caravans from a salt depot owned by Devon County Council.
The occupants – said to be four households from one family, one of whom is thought to be a gypsy – have already been moved on from land near the M5 after being evicted from at least one council house.
Following a complaint over the alleged use of air rifles at the site, anxious residents in Kennford, close to the A38 Devon Expressway, have called for immediate action over the land, which sits in an Area of Great Landscape Value.
Privately, some claim the county authority is "hiding behind" equalities policies over gypsies and travellers rather than clearing the four touring caravans from Red Cross Salt Depot.
After more than eight months, Teignbridge district council has now lost patience with the county council.
Planners are meeting on Monday when they are expected to approve plans to serve an enforcement notice on the county council and the people living on the site.
Devon County Council said moving the family on might simply create a worse problem somewhere else.
Councillor Alan Connett, former Liberal Democrat leader of the authority, said Teignbridge had "no obligation to rehouse the family".
"It falls to the county council to do more than it has to find them somewhere to live peacefully without breaching the planning laws," he said.
The family first rolled up to the Dawlish Road depot last July just as enforcement action was due to be taken against them on Highways Agency land in Exminster.
They are believed to have been forced to leave council houses in Exminster and also Exeter.
In January, Teignbridge officials received a series of complaints that the matter had not yet been resolved.
They said the site is regularly visited by the Devon County Gypsy Liaison Officer, who hopes "a more appropriate site can be found sooner rather than later".
A spokesman for Teignbridge said: "We have to strike a balance between those people who have to have somewhere to live and those in the vicinity who have to put up with them. If we don't start action there is a danger the use becomes established."
A spokesman for Devon County Council said it would continue to help find "a long-term housing solution". "While there remains no alternative option at the moment, our view is that moving the family from this, relatively isolated location runs a risk they would simply move to another more unsuitable location where their safety, that of the settled community and the travelling public could be compromised further," he added.