Caravans of love as flood victims move onto park

BRITAIN'S first mobile council estate has welcomed its first residents as South Yorkshire flood victims set up temporary home on a village playing field.

Tuesday, 11th September 2007, 12:56 pm
Updated Tuesday, 11th September 2007, 2:37 pm

Dozens of families from Toll Bar in Doncaster forced to abandon their homes by the floods moved into a new 1 million caravan park, ready to spend the foreseeable future under a metal roof.

The park, situated behind the Manor Estate, is to house 50 caravans, with room for another 25 to be added if needed.

And for the residents, who until this week had their caravans sited in car parks around the estate, the park could be home for as along as two years.

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But many are relieved to have found a more permanent home.

Alison Waring, who was evacuated from her home on June 26 on the first boat out of Toll Bar, has had three temporary homes already over the summer.

First she was moved to the Lakeside care centre, then to a hotel room at the Earth Centre - and when she was finally allocated a caravan it was based in a car park near her council house on the Manor estate.

“It’s nice to get a bit of stability back in our lives,” said Alison, who shares her caravan with son Ben, daughter Sally, two dogs and a cat.

“I suppose now that everyone’s living in the same place, Toll Bar will get a bit more of a sense of community - but the community spirit’s never really gone away. Even when people were being housed all over Doncaster we all kept in touch, so you always knew what everyone was up to.

“I’ve been in a caravan for two weeks now and, to be honest, it’s not much different from living in my bungalow - these mobile homes are massive and really well laid out - I don’t think I’d mind spending a couple of years in here.

“It would be nice to be home though - they’ve said it could be two years but if the council get things done quicker they’re going to look really good aren’t they?”

Lynsey Camm, 26, and her three daughters - all under seven-years-old - also moved onto the park on Monday evening.

They spent the summer living at Lynsey’s parents’ home in Edlington until a caravan became available five weeks ago.

“We’re just glad to be back - it’s great to be near home at last,” she said.

“I do want to get back home, but for the moment I’m happy enough. To be honest I think I could live in the caravan forever!”

Doncaster Council said the 50-berth park at Toll Bar was a “radical solution” for residents who may not be able to move back into their sodden homes for more than a year.

Toll Bar was under up to 5ft of water for more than a week after the River Don spilled over its flood defences and the village became one the main focuses of the flooding crisis which hit large parts of Yorkshire and Humberside, with the Prince of Wales and Prime Minister Gordon Brown both visiting the village.

Charles even took an impromptu boat trip down the water-logged High Street to see the full impact of the flooding for himself.

Doncaster’s elected mayor Martin Winter said: “I think the community themselves see that we are here dealing with some quite difficult situations and here a fairly radical solution to an issue is just part of the overall solution.

“We’ve also got to look at how we can support other people who’ve chosen not to come on to the caravan park.”