Residents opposing controversial travellers' site feel 'completely ignored'

Residents opposing a permanent travellers' site in Coseley say they have been “completely ignored” by Dudley Council.

The Budden Road transit site
The Budden Road transit site

The site on Budden Road could be made permanent under new plans submitted last week.

Dudley Council says the Budden Road site has “proved to be a success” with a drop in the number of illegal encampments across the borough since it opened. But residents living close to the site have hit back, claiming their opposition to the site has been “completely ignored since day one".

Furthermore, residents have raised concerns about anti-social behaviour and excessive noise at the site.

Craig Jones, Coseley resident and community activist said: “I’m aware that there have been issues with some users of the site. Residents have reported concerns about individuals who were causing anti-social behaviour and committing crimes away from the immediate site area and in the local community.

“The council have had issues themselves with site users refusing to leave the site and I’m led to believe some groups have even broken into the site. The concept of the site has never been an issue as we understand the need for it but the location of the site is the issue, due to the close proximity to houses, there have been occasions where excessive noise has been heard coming from the site, which beaches part of the agreement for use of the site, but this has been ignored by the council.

“Illegal encampments have been a problem in Dudley for a number of years, though the illegal incursions were mainly in the south of the borough. It seems that the council’s aim was to find a location as far away as possible from places like Kingswinford or Stourbridge where these incursions were a real issue.”

The Budden Road camp also sits on a previous landfill site and residents and councillors have raised concerns over contamination. However, Mr Jones said these were also ignored.

He continued: “One of our local ward councillors made us aware that the site is contaminated back in 2018. This was raised as a concern by residents with Councillor Patrick Harley when he met with us in person but seems to have been disregarded.

“The site had previously been used as a landfill and the council’s own environmental survey had identified that the land was severely contaminated. A resident carried out an “experiment” by placing a chopstick into the ground, the stick was charred on the end.

“It was put to the council but again ignored. It’s disgusting that the council have shown such disregard for the safety of site users. The site should never have been built at Budden Road without any remedial works first being undertaken.”

In a statement, Dudley Council has said they ensured the site was safe before allowing travellers to move in. The council said: “We have always been clear the site was very much needed to tackle the number of illegal encampments we were having in the borough and the cost to the taxpayer in moving them.

“The issue of contamination has been raised previously, but I’d like to reassure people any work that was required was carried out before it opened to ensure the site is safe for the Travellers.

“The success of the site is evidenced as in the two years before the site opened (June 2018 – May 2020) there were 44 incursions on council land totalling 457 days, taking an average of 10 days to evict. Since the transit site opened (June 2020 – May 2022) that figure has dropped to 11 incursions on council land totalling 37 days, taking an average of three days to evict or relocate, with six of the 11 incursions relocating to the Budden Road site.

“Travellers can opt to use the site and we will of course accept requests, so as to prevent any unauthorised encampments. Those using the site must pay the appropriate fees and comply with the conditions of the licence.”

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