PLANS to sell Travellers’ sites in Salisbury have sparked fears for families that they could be made homeless.

Wiltshire Council has to decide on the best way to improve conditions at Dairy House Bridge in Southampton Road, and Oak Tree Field in Odstock Road.

Central government had pledged £4.4m for redevelopment of such sites, but the proposed grant fell £3m short of the cash needed.

Work is needed on the sites to renovate old buildings and amenities. The council is considering selling the sites to new owners who will invest to improve conditions, following in the footsteps of councils such as Somerset, Buckinghamshire and Hampshire.

Helene Jones has lived at Oak Tree Field for more than 20 years. She said: “Salisbury has not got enough residential Travellers’ sites. If they shut it down there are going to be even less. There is nowhere else for us to go.

“If a private buyer buys the site, will they keep it as a travellers’ site?”

Helene added: “It is very upsetting. It’s given us a lot of depression and anxiety. I can’t sleep at night for worry. What will happen?”

“We would feel happier and safer if it stays under the council.

“I would like it if they could give us a guarantee that our tenancies are secure and people can keep their own homes.

“Let us know we are safe and can live here in peace.”

Fellow resident Sharon High said: “Our concern is if they sell it to someone private they will make it impossible for us to live on here.”

Residents are concerned the new owner could bring in “extortionate” rents and make them get rid of their own belongings.

They are also worried about the future of their tenancies.

Sharon High said: “The only thing they are saying in the terms and conditions is that it remains a Gypsy and Travellers’ site but it does not guarantee us tenancy and our plots stay as our plots.”

Sharon says she has been “battling” for many years to get the facilities at the site improved but is “still waiting”.

Residents say there are problems with mould, the sewage system and electrics.

But Wiltshire Council is reassuring residents that the locations would remain as Gypsy and Travellers’ sites.

A spokesman said: “We’d like to reassure tenants any transfer of ownership will only be on the condition this remains as a Gypsy and Travellers’ site so there is no need for concern. No one will be required to leave their pitch.

"No decision has been made and we want to hear residents’ views on this option which would ensure necessary improvements can be made to both sites for the benefit of those living there. These views will be taken into consideration as part of the decision making process.”

Wiltshire Council is asking residents for their views on the future of the two sites.

Toby Sturgis, cabinet officer for planning, said: “Our Gypsy and Traveller communities deserve good services and living conditions.

"Our priority is finding a solution that offers families a pleasant environment as well as a good deal for council tax payers.”