Dismay as travellers pitch up on beauty spot while £200,000 Smethwick site stands empty

Travellers have moved on to Wednesbury's historic beauty spot Church Hill.

Travellers on Church Hill, Wednesbury
Travellers on Church Hill, Wednesbury

Residents and councillors were dismayed to see more than 15 caravans gain entry to the green space near the town centre.

The green space has historic significance for being where Methodist Church founders Charles and John Wesley spoke to crowds 33 times in the 18th Century, even facing down rioters on one visit.

Wednesbury North Councillor Luke Giles told the Express & Star he was disappointed the travellers ignored other sites and chose Church Hill.

He said: "Sandwell Council built a travellers park in Black Patch, Smethwick, which is rarely used which is really disappointing because it was built so they would not turn up at places like Church Hill.

"Church Hill is a green space which residents enjoy using, there is the Wesley Stone in the middle, but now they will stay away because of the travellers, it's not fair."

The first of the vans gained entry to Church Hill on Monday afternoon and then more caravans and lorries followed.

Councillor Giles said: "They come to places like Church Hill instead of the official camp built for them because they have to pay a deposit in case they make a mess, this obviously puts them off.

"Something needs to be done to stop this problem blighting areas like Wednesbury."

Fellow Wednesbury North Councillor Elaine Costigan said: "Wardens have been called and will make their way to Church Hill, and they have been reported."

Sandwell Council’s transit site at Boulton Road, Smethwick – which cost £200,000 and opened in 2017 – has been used once in the past year, for 12 days.

Local legend has that it was the place where Charlie Chaplin was born - the only fan letter the superstar kept was one from a man who said he remembered the night he was born in Smethwick.

Walsall Council’s site in Pleck has been occupied since it opened in June at a cost of £590,000, while Dudley Council’s Coseley site has seen 37 licences for use issued over the past 12 months.

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