Police criticised as travellers moved into new Black Country transit site

A council leader has criticised police for an alleged "lack of support" in moving travellers from their illegal camp into a new transit site.

Travellers at the new transit site on Budden Road
Travellers at the new transit site on Budden Road

Nine caravans parked up illegally on land near to the recently completed temporary transit site on Budden Road, Coseley, on Monday afternoon.

Dudley Council, which set up the site earlier this year, used new powers to move the group off the land and into the transit site and called on the police for support.

Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of Dudley Council, claimed officers refused to help the council's enforcement team and the eviction had to be delayed as a result.

However Chief Superintendent Kim Madill, of Dudley Police, said there was no justification for police to intervene on Monday but officers did offer to support the eviction.

"On this occasion, council officers achieved a good result, however I was shocked with the lack of support offered by the police," Councillor Harley said.

"We have a joint protocol which is a commitment to working together to remove travellers quickly, however on this occasion the police refused to attend the scene and support the operation.

"I am appalled that this was the case and would expect a much more robust response. It is unacceptable that our officers had to delay eviction overnight following a lack of support from police colleagues. It is clear that work needs to be done to strengthen this for a much swifter response in the future."

All of the caravans were moved on on Tuesday morning and have now paid deposits and rent. They will be permitted to stay there for a maximum of 30 days.

Ch Supt Madill said: “Dudley Council requested support from us to help evict a group of travellers late on Monday evening.

“The local authority attended the site on Monday evening with bailiffs, but there was no justification under law for the police to intervene at that stage.

“We did advise the local authority that we would be able to attend if they decided to carry out the eviction, and a need for police to intervene arose.

“After discussions with the local authority, they decided that the eviction would take place on Tuesday morning as the group was not causing a disturbance.

“The travellers themselves had also earlier agreed to move on on Tuesday morning.

“We offered to support Tuesday morning’s eviction, but the local authority advised us on the morning that they did not need our support and the travellers moved on without any issue.

“We are committed to enforcing the law and working with all communities and partners to keep Dudley safe.”

The new transit site was completed earlier this year after three years of opposition from nearby residents and businesses.

Previously it would have taken an average of five to seven days for the council to go through the courts to move the travellers on.

"Yesterday was the first time our new powers have been tested," Councillor Harley said.

"It shows the transit site works but I vow to make sure we do better next time and get them moved on even quicker, within a matter of hours."

Councillor Harley added: "This administration made a clear commitment to our residents from the start that the transit site was about taking back control of our open spaces and removing the potential for disruption that many of our residents have had to endure over the years.

"We now have the powers to move illegal encampments on more quickly and easily, reducing the time they have to create the mess and devastation they often leave behind, which the Dudley taxpayer ends up footing the bill for.

"If members of an unauthorised encampment fail to relocate to Budden Road, it could lead to enforcement action, arrests, vehicles being seized and being banned from returning to the borough for three months."

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