A group of travellers has set up Britain’s most expensive camp site by parking their caravans – on an unfinished £80million bypass.
Nine caravans carrying up to 30 travellers have set up camp on the A1073 bypass near Peterborough, Cambs.
The £80.3m road between Peterborough and Spalding was due to open last year but has been delayed after workmen caused damage to a nearby Roman monument.
And council chiefs are powerless to evict them because legal ownership of the road it still in the hands of contractors Enterprise Peterborough.
Yesterday nine caravans and several vehicles were parked on the grass verge and young children were playing games on the deserted carriageway.
Outraged villagers have branded the legal loophole being exploited by travellers as a ”joke” and described the councils involved as ”incompetent”.
Cllr David Sanders, Tory councillor for Eye, said: ”The whole thing is a joke. First they messed up the bridge so the road couldn’t open which is still causing misery for motorists, and now this.
”Drivers are up in arms and now villagers are up in arms. It’s complete incompetence. The council has been faffing around for too long.
”I spoke to the travellers and they know what they are doing. They saw the road was closed and thought it would be a good place.
”So not only do we have a big expensive road closed because the council cocked up the bridge but we’ve got travellers now calling it home.
”Because the council hasn’t adopted the road yet it will be up to the contractors to move them on.
”This is a multi-million pound road we are talking about. It must be the most expensive traveller’s site in Britain.”
The bypass is part of a new £80.3m road between Peterborough and Spalding jointly paid for by Peterborough City Council and Lincolnshire County Council.
On Friday a group of travellers set up home on a four-mile stretch between Eye and Crowland which is currently closed to traffic.
The road was due to open last August but this was delayed when cracks were found in a £3m embankment at Car Dyke, near to a Roman monument.
Contractors predict the closed stretch between Eye and Crowland will be fully open in October this year once the cracks have been repaired by Enterprise Peterborough.
However, until then the local councils are powerless to evict the travellers because they do not own the land.
A spokesman for Peterborough City Council said: ”We haven’t got any powers. We can’t do anything about travellers on private land.
”It is up to the private landowner to move them on.”
A spokesman for Lincolnshire County Council revealed the delay in evicting travellers from the bypass is due to its confused ownership status.
The council is now taking ”guidance” from Cambridgeshire Constabulary concerning the legality of serving eviction notices.
He said: ”It’s in a bit of limbo at the moment as the road is obviously mid-construction.
”The site is managed by Morgan Sindall who are Lincolnshire County Council’s contractors for the works, meaning we technically own the land at the moment.
”But when the road is opened, it will be owned by Peterborough City Council.
”Morgan Sindall and Lincolnshire County Council are currently investigating what options are available to evict the travellers and are awaiting guidance from Cambridgeshire police.”
The road remains legally owned by Lincolnshire County Council until the work is completed when it will be officially adopted by Peterborough City Council.
If the road was owned by a local authority traveller liaison officers could serve eviction notices to force the travellers to move on.
The 14 mile (22km) bypass takes traffic from Spalding, Lincs., to Eye, Cambs.
The first 9 mile (14km) stretch is already open but the remaining road – including the area where the travellers’ have set up home – is planned to open in October.
The Department for Transport provided a capped funding contribution of £69.8m towards the £80.3m total cost of the scheme, which is lead by Lincolnshire County Council.