AN emergency camp site is being opened after a housing estate was swamped with caravans on their way to the Appleby Fair.

Dozens of travellers have set up camp at Startforth Park on the outskirts of Barnard Castle sparking fury from residents.

The problem was exacerbated by a temporary site at Shawbank, which the travellers had been directed, being closed due after heavy rain turned it into a mud bath.

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Now Durham County Council is opening a former salt depot at Barforth Park on the A688 Barnard Castle for the travellers to use.

Oliver Sherratt, head of direct services, said this was in response to residents’ concerns, some of which were raised on Facebook.

Annette Vasey said: “The kids can't go out to play as, intimidation apart, they have parked all over the play area and have horses running all over.

“There is no sanitation there so chances are the people who live there legally cannot let their children play on there when the travellers leave as God knows what they will encounter.”

Residents have also criticised the Ministry of Justice who own the land as part of the Deerbolt Young Offenders Institute for not making the land secure against caravans.

Governor Gabrielle Lee said: “I do not decry our neighbours’ distress or experiences, this is a problem that has been made a lot worse this year due to the weather ruining one of the camps.

“We have been in regular contact with the travellers talking to them about having consideration for residents especially when it comes to dealing with noise, animals and refuse.”

The governor said the problem will be reviewed but insisted the solution is not as simple as putting up a barrier due to the size and layout of the land.

She also said any legal attempts to move the caravans would be a waste of expense to the tax payers as by the time the proper procedures were in place the travellers will have moved on to the Cumbrian fair, which starts next Thursday (June 5).

Barnard Castle neighbourhood police team have also made regular trips to the site and are encouraging the travellers to use Barforth Park.

Neighbourhood Inspector Kevin Tuck said: “We understand the angst and anxiety of residents and are committed to tackling any criminal allegations at the camp.

“But this is a civil trespass and we do not have the power to break up the camp.”