Express & Star

Fury as two Wolverhampton parks missing from traveller camp ban

Two popular parks in Wolverhampton have not been included in an illegal traveller camp ban prompting criticism from council opposition.

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Travellers in East Park, Wolverhampton, earlier this year

Bantock Park and Heath Town Park have been left off the list of 60 sites across the city included in a new ban.

The ban gives authorities the power to remove travellers without having to go through the courts.

The city’s council was granted the injunction at Birmingham High Court on October 2.

Now, the Conservatives have criticised the Labour council’s ban for not including the two sites that have occupied travellers in the past and claim the move ‘does not extend far enough’.

East Park and Bantock Park both had travellers camping on them in July and out of the two green spaces only East Park has been included in the protective traveller ban.

Heath Town Park also had travellers living on the site earlier this year.

Simon Bennett, Conservative councillor for the Merry Hill Ward, said: “After months and months of urging the council to take tougher action over illegal traveller sites, I welcome the granting of the injunction which will provide reassurance to local communities. But this injunction clearly does not extend far enough.

“Places such as Bantock Park and Heath Town Park are not on the list, despite being subjected to illegal encampments in the past, and Labour councillor Steve Evans needs to explain why.

"It’s not acceptable to dismiss these sites simply because they haven’t been targeted as much as other areas.”

Margaret Simpkins, aged 82, lives on Finchfield Road near Bantock Park.

She said: “We don’t want them. We pay lots of council tax and we just don’t want that sort of thing.

“They were there the other week, they broke into the park and moved their caravans on there.”

The council released a statement on its Facebook page, saying: “We understand many of you are concerned why your area is not covered by the injunction.

"The list of 60 sites was drawn up primarily based on the locations that had experienced an unauthorised encampment in recent years and the locations considered most vulnerable.

“We were advised that without a transit site in place, a blanket ban on all open areas within Wolverhampton could be seen as dis-proportionate and could result in the application failing.

“We tried to add Heath Town Park and Bantock Park following the recent incursions but was advised that this could delay the entire application.

“There will be an opportunity to recommend to the Judge that we add or remove sites.

"Any areas that seriously suffer from displacement can be removed quickly by the police under existing powers.”