A COUPLE who camped out on a riverbank for three weeks after being evicted from their home are to move into a council bungalow.

Former soldier Kevin Howe, 45, and wife Susan, 39, were evicted from a Home Housing property in Barnard Castle, County Durham, after running up rent arrears of £2,500.

The Northern Echo reported how they slept in the open air next to the River Tees for a week before friends loaned them a tent, which became their temporary home.

But yesterday they were delighted after being told by Teesdale District Council that they can have a one-bedroom bungalow at Copley, near Barnard Castle.

Mr Howe said yesterday: "We will move in within the next few days once the formalities have been completed. It will be like heaven to have a roof over our heads again."

They were given the news at the weekend by Geoff Proudlock, Teesdale District Council's principal housing officer, after arrangements were made through social services to have the rent, and part of the arrears, paid directly from Mr Howe's disability allowance.

The former Light Infantry soldier, who served in Northern Ireland and the Falklands, suffers from epilepsy.

He said the arrears built up at their former Zetland Road home while he waited for a rent allowance to be arranged, which was eventually refused.

As he stoked a log fire beside the tent he said: "We are grateful to the council for giving us this chance, and to many other people who rallied round to help once our story was told in The Northern Echo.

"The police came regularly to check that we were all right. Other people came to cheer us up.

"We are especially grateful to Colin and Carol Winley, who loaned us the tent and brought us bacon sandwiches."

Mrs Howe said, "It will be marvellous to get our furniture out of storage and start living in a house again instead of cooking our meals in the open air."

District councillor Ken Coates, who intervened to help the couple, said: "I am delighted that we've found a way to re-house them. It would be wrong to make them live on the riverbank any longer."