A FAMILY of Hereford travellers is fighting to save the 'showcase' site they campaigned for and call home.

Just 12 years ago Romany Close, at Grafton, near Hereford, was an example. The Lockes say it can be again - if Herefordshire Council gives local families a chance to undo damage done.

Extensive vandalism and other anti-social antics by 'outsiders' occupying the site caused the council to close it down in the summer. Now, a sale seems likely.

A sale that Herefordshire Travellers Support Group (HTSG) brands 'dangerously irresponsible'.

The Lockes - who spent 10 largely trouble-free years at Romany Close - have opened up an alternative, start the site from scratch as somewhere local families can stay together.

That was the original intention, a cause the Lockes campaigned for over the 1980s.

"We were the first residents and lived happily for most of the time.

"It's our home up there at Grafton," said Charlotte Locke, who speaks for the family.

She said the smooth running of the site lasted until 'outsiders' arrived in 2000.

HTSG has backed a petition the Lockes sent to the council.

Secure bases such as Romany Close were 'badly needed' said Peter Baines, a long-time ally of travellers' causes in the county. Selling them was 'dangerously irresponsible' when illegal roadside encampments often led to confrontation.

Romany Close opened in 1990. Government money helped the Hereford and Worcester County Council put 18 pitches on the site.

And it was the earlier authority's policies that dictated Herefordshire Council's stance until last year.

A report released in December went against the idea of large, permanent sites to opt instead for transitional alternatives; some of which travellers could either own, lease or manage.

To achieve this the council had to consider selling its larger sites - Grafton, Madley and Bromyard.