SURREY Heath Council has won backing for its plans to move gypsies from illegal sites in double quick time.

Its blueprint for dealing with the problem is being supported by the national Local Government Association.

As part of the solution, the council wants all local authorities to provide permanent sites for gypsies.

Currently 148 councils have no such sites. Surrey Heath, however, has two with enough room for 30 families.

In addition the council wants local authorities to provide temporary sites for travellers and showmen attending race meetings and similar events.

Once these facilities are in place, the council believes new laws should be introduced to allow illegally parked gypsies to be moved on "within hours rather than the current days or weeks."

The association, which represents councils throughout the country, has welcomed the council's "constructive and responsible approach".

Jane Cheris, the association's planning chief, said: "This matter will be a priority issue as far as we are concerned."

The news will be welcomed by residents in the Star area who have been calling for action for ages.

They say they are fed up with gypsies setting up camp on playing fields, car parks and other open space.

When the travellers eventually move on, they usually leave behind a mountain of rubbish which local councils have to clear up at taxpayers' expense.