TRAVELLERS say they are being forced to use illegal camps as provision for them in the borough is inadequate.

A six-caravan strong group set up on private land opposite Firwood Paints, in Oakenbottom Road, Breightmet, on Sunday night.

The land is owned by the manufacturing firm, which is taking legal action to have the camp removed.

But a spokesman for the group — who gave his name as Thomas—said they just wanted a permanent site where they could live a ‘comfortable life’ and ‘settle down’.

Thomas, aged 53, who shares a caravan with wife Kathleen, said: “We have one caravan site in Bolton - Crompton Lodge, in Farnworth - but it’s so run down half of it is not fit to use.

“The tiling on the roof, the cladding, the drains and the sinks are broken. It’s in a terrible state.”

But he said that if there was a better facility available, or they were able to buy land from the council, the group would not continue to move from site to site.

Describing the the Crompton Lodge Caravan Park as ‘horrible’ he added: “If you went down here yourself you would see you couldn’t live on it.

"The council says it’s short of money, but they are taking money off people living on it how they are.”

He said that the group had offered to buy land in Farnworth off the council but had been refused.

He added: “So they take us off the land and put us back on the road.”

Asked what the ideal site for his group would be he said: “Somewhere out of the way of everyone where we are happy and people let us settle down. I would like the peace, but it comes down to being able to afford it.”

Thomas also claims that racism directed at travellers seemed to be more accepted than when it is aimed at other groups.

He said: “They call us such things as a ‘pikey’, and there’s nothing more offensive. A pike is the filthiest thing in a river, it eats the vermin.

“When we go into a pub they say we are all barred. The police say to put a complete ban on us. If that’s not racism, I don’t know what is."

Firwood Paints declined to comment.

Bolton Council and Greater Manchester Police have been approached for a comment but had not responded at the time of going to press.