Contamination vow from group fighting Coseley traveller camp
Residents have vowed to conduct their own contamination checks on a controversial site where a travellers camp is planned.
Around 50 people gathered at the Apple Tree Inn in Coseley to voice their concerns over Dudley Council’s plan to create a temporary travellers transit site in the borough to halt unauthorised camps.
Proposals for the site in Budden Road were approved by the council’s cabinet last month and now a public consultation is being carried out before a decision is made on the planning application.
Local resident Tony Sheldon, 70, said: “We are going to do our own test on the site to check for contamination. We’re prepared to do anything to stop it. We will fund it ourselves if we have to.”
Protestors have previously raised concerns over the safety of the site for residential use owing to the level of contamination they claim is present.
The site has been recorded as containing foundry and construction waste.
Mr Sheldon said: “When you stop and look at the sites that were suggested, how they came up with this as the preferred site I have no idea.
“There are more appropriate and cheaper sites to convert.
"What really gets me is the fact that they couldn’t afford to refurbish the site a few years ago.”
The issue was discussed for more than two hours among residents on the night.
Mr Sheldon added: “It’s been said the site must not be near residents’ properties, but it’s right at the back of people’s houses.
“There will be a 10 per cent depreciation in house prices because of the site and house insurance will also be higher.
"People can't afford that kind of money. But you can't object on that basis - it's ridiculous."
Councillor Susan Ridney, the councillor for Coseley East where the site is located, said: “If that’s what they want to do, that’s fine.
“This site is contaminated. We have raised this at every meeting we’ve been to about this site. The environmental report on the council’s website supports that argument.
“There may be children and toddlers on the land and that’s not safe.
"Whatever your opinion on travellers is, it’s not safe to put anyone on that site in its present condition.”
However Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of the council, said the site had been made safe and that there would be no unacceptable risk to human health at the site.
“The issue of contamination is not new – it has been raised by residents several times throughout the consultation period," Councillor Harley said.
“While we understand their concerns, we have reassured them on a number of occasions that the site has been made safe.
“Moreover, as part of meeting planning regulations, the council will have to demonstrate that in developing a travellers transit site there will be no unacceptable risk to human health.
"We are very confident we will be able to do that, and would not be proceeding with it otherwise.
“We would be more than happy to share relevant reports regarding contamination with residents if requested.
“For obvious reasons, we would be uncomfortable with allowing intrusive investigations by third parties without firm reassurance the site would be restored to its original condition afterwards.”
The public consultation runs until March 24.