Traveller camp in Willenhall shut down within hours thanks to new powers
New powers to evict travellers from sites across Walsall were put into action for the first time – with an illegal encampment removed within hours.
A number of caravans set up camp at the Wakes Ground car park in Willenhall on Thursday, which is one of 11 new sites covered by an injunction Walsall Council were given the power to use.
Council leaders have said that the quick removal of the encampment shows that their ‘hard work has paid off’.
The Wakes car park in Willenhall is one of 11 sites which have been added to the original 12 across the borough covered by injunctions handed out last year which give the council authorisation to evict travellers camped on the sites more quickly and save taxpayers money from expensive court proceedings, officer time the cost of clearing sites.
Councillor Ian Shires, portfolio holder for community and leisure with Walsall Council, said: "I would like to thank the officers involved for all the hard work that had gone into securing the injunctions through the courts earlier this month.
“All that work has clearly paid off today as community protection officers and police were able to clear the site within hours."
Despite the success in tackling the latest encampment thanks to the new injunctions, councillor Shires added that more needs to be done to make the council have as strong a position as possible.
He said: "This was a great success but our defence isn't perfect yet, I still believe we need to set up a travellers site in the borough.
"Work is progressing to identify a suitable transit site within the borough which will give even more powers to deal with unauthorised encampments.”
Sites including beauty spot Barr Beacon, where more than 40 caravans were set up last month, are now covered by a court injunction giving Walsall Council greater powers to remove travellers earlier this month.
The new injunctions cover Barr Beacon, Aldridge Airport, Walsall Arboretum, King George V Playing Fields in Bloxwich, Pelsall Common, Swannies Field and The Lea, The Croft in Aldridge, Victoria Park in Darlaston, the Wakes Ground car and lorry park in Willenhall, Wolverhampton Street car park and Aldridge Community Centre and adjoining land at Middlemore Lane.
Recently, Aldridge-Brownhills MP Wendy Morton called for a 'three strikes rule' allowing police to seize traveller vehicles that persistently break the law during a debate in Westminster Hall.
During the debate, she urged ministers to explore new legislation giving police powers to impound and sell the assets of travellers who repeatedly set up illegal encampments.