TRAVELLERS who set up an illegal camp have landed taxpayers with a bill of more than £1,800.
About 10 caravans made a temporary home on private land off Commercial Road, in Hendon, for about two weeks.
Under Government guidelines, the city council was obliged to pay out for toilets and water to be provided on the site.
Information provided under the Freedom of Information Act reveals the cost of the toilets was £102, plus VAT, and a water bowser was £454, including VAT.
Vandals burnt out the bowser, leaving the council with charges of more than £2,200, although the owners agreed to take hire costs off the total.
Police are investigating the arson attack. Hendon officers have said the travellers did not commit any crimes during their time there.
However, disgruntled resident Eddy Moore thinks the council should stop them returning.
He also claimed large amounts of rubbish were dumped, although the authority disputes this.
Mr Moore, of Canon Cockin Street, said: “It was not there before they were and it was there when they left.
“There was a lot of builders’ rubbish intermingled with black bags of stuff. They crossed a public footpath, then went over what I believe is a strip of council-owned land.”
Paddy Cronin, managing director of Edward Thompson Printers, which owns the land, said the travellers promised to leave after two days.
“We were disappointed because we thought we had an agreement with them. We did not invite them to stay and they illegally went on to our land.
“It was not left clean and tidy, but we did make sure it was clean and tidy.
“I’ve got nothing against the travelling community, because we have showmen on our land for the fair at the football ground, and they are as good as gold and great people.
“We are not anti-traveller, just anti-people who want to make a mess and illegally park on our land. We have blocked off the land now, so it is hard to get access with vehicles.”
Sunderland Council head of housing Alan Caddick said: “The council has a policy on unauthorised encampments, which is followed each time there is such an encampment in the city.
“Local authorities have a duty to consider the accommodation and welfare needs of gipsies and travellers as part of their statutory obligations.”