AN ILLEGAL traveller site is being hooked up to the National Grid, even though it has no planning permission.

Contractors have been working at the site, near the Five Bells roundabout in Vange, to connect it to the mains, with temporary traffic lights causing delays and traffic jams for motorists.

Some neighbours have also claimed they saw paving slabs being taken into the site.

One neighbour,a woman in her fifties, from Southend Road, who would not be named, said: “A lorry load of paving slabs was delivered.

“Everybody said they were worried the site might be expanded and this is nowabig concern, as the council doesn’t seem to be able to do anything.”

A 43-year-old man, who uses the road regularly, said: “I want to know who gave a permit for those companies to carry out the work.

“There are traffic lights and vehicles are queuing around the Five Bells roundabout.

“It’s going to grind the area to a halt, yet unbelievably, this is an illegal site.”

The Ward family, who own the site and live there, applied to Thurrock Council for permission to stay, but were refused last month. The family have since appealed to the Planning Inspectorate.

Robert Ward, a spokesman for the family, said they were doing nothing wrong in getting electricity connected.

He said: “The utility firm had to notify the council. We have cut no corners. We just want a fair crack of the whip.

“It is a legal process we are going through, so we are breaking no laws. Some people in the area have accepted us, but others have pre-judged us and are giving us abuse.”

The family arrived on the green belt site over the Easter bank holiday weekend, moving on caravans and connecting to the water main.

Five adults and six children live at the site, according to information sent in with the refused planning application.

Thurrock Council could have used used legal powers brought in to combat illegal traveller camps, when the family moved on to the land. However confusion about whether the borough, or Essex County Council’s gipsy and traveller unit, was responsible for enforcement meant action was not taken at the time.

A Thurrock Council spokesman said: “The council has no power to stop the works being carried out on the public highway. UK Power is working under the New Roads and Street Works Act and is fully compliant.”