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Travellers 'targeting sites close to Birmingham's QE Hospital'

By Carl Jackson | Birmingham | News | Published:

Travellers are targeting sites near the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for easy access to healthcare, a councillor has claimed.

The transit traveller site at Proctor Street, Nechells, has 15 pitches and a heated toilet and wash block. Birmingham City Council

The claim was made as it was revealed a new £100-a-week transit site has almost eradicated illegal encampments on Birmingham City Council property within a matter of weeks – although it appears to have had a knock-on effect at private car parks and supermarkets.

The 15-pitch transit car park at Proctor Street, Nechells, launched on November 1.

Since then there has only been one illegal encampment of note on council property, which was in Balsall Heath last month.

The eight caravans were served with a notice and left within 24 hours after declining to use the transit site, which is £100 per week per pitch.

Councillor Majid Mahmood claimed that travellers often target locations in and around Edgbaston to stay close to the QE Hospital and called for another transit site to be established nearby.

He relayed conversations he had with travelling families while visiting his late father at the hospital in 2018 and said: “I used to speak to the families, when doctors kick you out of the room to do what they have to do etc.

"A lot of them were saying they come here because of the treatment at the hospital.

“It would be useful for the city council on a strategic basis to have a look at another site potentially near the hospital.”

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The University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the QE, stated they would need more information on the claims before being in a position to comment.

Citizens Advice guidance says it is unlawful for hospitals to discriminate against gypsies and travellers under the Equality Act 2010.

A council report to LPPC confirmed the number of traveller incursions had "markedly dropped" since the launch of the Proctor Street site.

That has been occupied by three groups, one of which stayed for a fortnight and two that stayed for the maximum four weeks.

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The number of illegal encampments fell from nine in October to four in November, all of which were already in place when the transit site opened. There were none in December.

However there has been a notable increase in incursions to private land, mainly at supermarkets and other car parks.

There were seven in January, more than the previous nine months combined.

The council and West Midlands Police have offered to use their powers to evict the travellers but the managers at the various facilities have declined assistance in favour of using their own bailiffs, the report said.

The council is looking to establish another transit site at Aston Brook Street, in Aston, after recently recovering the plot, which had been occupied by a single caravan for more than ten years.

Meanwhile the saga surrounding the council’s existing traveller site at Tameside Drive, Castle Vale, is subject to a legal battle with the long-term occupants who have been there for decades.

Carl Jackson

By Carl Jackson
@CarlJackson_LDR

Local Democracy Reporter covering Birmingham City Council.

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