Black Country council bosses to discuss traveller sites
Bosses at three Black Country councils are making plans to create temporary sites for travellers.
Wolverhampton Council, Dudley Council and Walsall Council are each seeking a transit site in a bid to tackle unauthorised encampments.
It comes as the assistant police and crime commissioner, Waheed Saleem, urged councils to stop moving travellers “from place to place” and instead take action.
Mr Saleem said: “Putting in place a transit site would unlock police powers to immediately direct travellers from an unauthorised encampment to a transit site.
“Areas without transit sites will become increasingly vulnerable and could become a magnet for further unauthorised encampments in their borough.
“Local authorities risk paying thousands of pounds per year in clean-up costs if traveller needs are not met. To tackle the issue, all local authorities must implement transit sites for the travelling community.”
Leader of Dudley Council, Patrick Harley, said there had been an “ongoing issue” with travellers in the area – with them currently occupying Flood Street car park.
Councillor Harley said: “There is an ongoing issue with unauthorised traveller encampments in the Dudley borough, which is why we have identified the need for a transit site.
“We have now approached a small number of local landowners to see if they can help us to find a suitable location for a short-term stay site.
“As always, this will be subject to the full consultation and planning process.”
In Walsall, a senior councillor has said the issue will be discussed – with a report set to be presented in the upcoming months.
Councillor Garry Perry, portfolio holder for community, said: “We recognise the need for a transit site for the travelling community here in Walsall.
“The council has established a working party to discuss the issue and to look at the approach we will take in detail and this will report back in October.”
And in Wolverhampton, a spokeswoman has said residents in the city will be updated once a site has been put in place.
The spokeswoman added: “Since obtaining the High Court injunction last October, the council has been working with potential land owners to secure a transit site to enable travellers to have somewhere to stay when they visit the city.
“Once a transit site has been agreed, we will update the public.”
Meanwhile, a transit site has already been set up near Black Patch Park in Smethwick by Sandwell Council.
The site gives police powers under Section 62 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act to remove unauthorised encampments from council land.
Failure to move to the site, or returning to the borough within three months, is classed as an offence – with police able to seize or remove the vehicles.
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