Travellers' camps on Walsall Council priorities list
New leaders at Walsall Council are to discuss prioritising tackling unauthorised travellers' camps and protecting library services over the next year.
A report to be discussed by the authorities public services scrutiny committee suggests more attention could be given to tackling ongoing issues with travellers and preserving the borough's libraries, which at one point faced huge cuts.
Prior to May's local elections, an alternative budget proposal put forward by the now ruling Labour and Liberal Democrats suggested that seven libraries across Walsall faced closure, while the authority spent £70,000 clearing up sites after travellers moved on over the last year.
At tomorrow's meeting, the committee will discuss setting up working groups to tackle a variety of issues, with encampments and libraries top of the suggestion pile.
Walsall Council's deputy leader Lee Jeavons said: "Unauthorised encampments are an ongoing problem for the council and one we would be hoping to tackle more successfully going forward.
It has already been said that the new administration would be looking to save library services where possible.
"The purpose of the meeting is to assess whether these should be classed as our top priorities. If we agree that they can be, we would look at setting up a working group to look specifically at how we can best address the issues."
The council comes together every year to discuss its 'areas of focus', with a group being set up to look at welfare reform issues across the borough last year.
Other issues that could become a priority for the council include the process of dealing with owners of derelict buildings, including how to take relevant action against them if needed.
Ensuring that Rememberance Day parades are properly organised will also be discussed, after last year's parades were hit by a lack of police presence.
Councillor Jeavons said: "These are all up for discussion at Thursday's meeting.
"We will decide then what we are going to be classing as our priorities. Previous working groups we have set up have done good work and helped us tackle issues correctly."
Ongoing concerns from previous years include the electrification of Network Rail lines and the Willenhall Economic Regeneration Strategy. Seven closure-threatened libraries across the borough were given a stay of execution after an alternative budget put forward by Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors was approved back in February.
However council tax will still rise by 3.99 per cent, with £29 million of savings needed for the year.
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