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Action on illegal traveller sites helps drive down number of camps

By Pete Madeley | Sandwell | News | Published:

The number of illegal traveller camps in Sandwell has been cut by 95 per cent after tough new legislation was brought in as part of a borough wide crackdown.

Travellers pitched up outside Rowley Regis Railway Station in 2017

Travellers were in Sandwell for just 33 days last year – down from the equivalent of 577 days the previous year – while the cost of dealing with them plummeted by 96 per cent.

The authority spent £10,000 clearing up fly-tipping and damage left by travellers in 2017/18, compared to £252,000 in 2016/17.

Bosses say the change is down to new measures designed to tackle the problem head on, including better security at parks and open spaces and a new transit site in Smethwick.

It comes as the West Midlands prepares to announce its formal response to a Government consultation on the issue of traveller camps later this week.

Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for regeneration, Councillor Paul Moore said: “We’re doing a range of things to tackle the issue which, when you put them all together, have drastically reduced the problems we were having in Sandwell.

“We have the transit site in Smethwick, which means the police have the power to direct traveller groups to relocate there and pay rent and a deposit or leave the area.

“We’ve worked hard to secure our parks and green spaces to stop caravans getting on.

"And we have a team of people who spring into action when we do have an encampment turn up.

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"We’ve had huge success in Sandwell and now other authorities across the Black Country and beyond are taking a lead from us on dealing with the issue.”

Transit sites across the Black Country was recommended at a summit held last year by West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jameson.

An injunction banning 14 members of the Cassidy family and associates from setting up unauthorised camps in Sandwell was recently extended for five years.

Pete Madeley

By Pete Madeley
@P_Madeley_Star

Political Editor for the Express & Star. Responsible for local and national political stories, opinion, comment and analysis.

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