We live on the Big Fat Gypsy Weddings caravan site… we’re treated like dirt by council but have every right to be here | The Sun

We live on the Big Fat Gypsy Weddings caravan site… we’re treated like dirt by council but have every right to be here | The Sun

TRAVELLERS living on a caravan site which appeared on Big Fat Gypsy Weddings say they are constantly snubbed by the council.

The group, who set up camp there in 2021, claim officials ignore their complaints and charge them far too much in rent.

The Salford site – formerly run by TV star Paddy Doherty – has allegedly been neglected despite repeated demands for improvements.

"Giant" rats are regularly spotted running about and residents complain of a lack of lighting, pot-holed roads and inadequate cleaning.

It means the decision to increase rent by 12.4 per cent at Duchy Road Caravan Park has incensed those who live there.

Many are already struggling to pay their gas and electricity bills and fear they will be made to leave.


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Madeleine Lee, 55, said the park had fallen into disrepair since Paddy managed it and described the rent hike as "terrible".

"Many families are really struggling to look after their children so the rent rise will be terrible for them," she said.

"The site is pitch black at night because there isn’t enough lighting and the road-sweeping vehicle that comes doesn’t even clean up properly."

Her neighbour Rosie Jones agreed that the lack of lighting was "dangerous" and said she didn't understand why the site couldn't be maintained like other travelling communities she has visited in Yorkshire.

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The 47-year-old said: "The council needs to sort this out.

"What it is doing with the rents is disgraceful."

One man, who didn’t wish to be named, said "giant" rats were commonplace at the site and council pest-control measures, which are included in service charges, were too infrequent.

"They put poison down and rat-traps a few weeks ago but they haven't been back since," he said.

"We’re paying for rat control, but they can’t even do that properly."

Another man, who described himself as a site spokesperson, said the local authority had "done nothing" to tackle the potholes on the roads.

He also claimed many residents were stuck paying extortionate amounts for their electricity because they are tied to business tariffs.

Anything we ask for usually falls on deaf ears

"We should be able to arrange our own electricity suppliers and pay consumer tariffs," he added.

"We’ve asked if it can happen, but it’s Salford Council so it could take years.

"Anything we ask for usually falls on deaf ears."

A council report from February last year identified a "number of challenges" which have added to running costs.

This included illegal encampments, fly-tipping and high communal utility costs.

It said income alone was "insufficient" to deliver a good standard of housing management, repairs and maintenance.

"Without the ability to bring in additional income to cover the cost of services being received, the future sustainability of the site is at risk as it is currently operating at a significant loss to the council," it added.

But the 12.4 per cent rent rise is higher than the seven per cent rise on 12,000 social housing properties in the Pendleton area of Salford.

That means social housing rents will go up by an average of £6.57, from £93.85 per week to £100.42.

While an average pitch fee at the Duchy Caravan Site will go up from £57.92 per week to £65.10.

Other residents branded the hike "robbery" and a "p***-take" and called for councillors to come down to inspect the site’s "disrepair" for themselves.

"They’ve neglected the place really," said another man.

"Raising the rents is a bit of an insult. Are they going to put any of the money back into the site?"

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Councillor Sharmina August told a meeting that she was "proud" of the work the council did for the travelling community but the pitch fee rise left a "bad taste" in her mouth, even if most of the residents on the site were in receipt of housing benefit.

But head of service housing strategy Andrew Leigh said the rent rise at the site, which the council took over from Salix Homes in 2021, was needed to mitigate a £100,000 deficit.

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