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Protest planned as Dudley car park used for travellers

By Jamie Brassington | Dudley | Politics | Published:

A protest is planned over the use of a town car park as a makeshift transit site for illegal travellers’ camps.

Travellers on Flood Street car park, Dudley, last month

It comes as travellers were moved onto Flood Street car park in Dudley town centre again on Thursday night by council bosses.

Labour councillor Shaukat Ali, the protest’s organiser, has accused Conservative council leader Patrick Harley of using the car park as a make-shift transient site.

However Councillor Harley argued it is better to use a “redundant car park” – meaning Flood Street – than public parks.

It is the second time in a month that an unauthorised camp has been based on Flood Street.

Councillor Ali, who represents St Thomas’s Ward – where Flood Street is based – said: “Residents and businesses in my ward have had enough of this.

“Over the past 12 months there has been quite a number of encampments. People have had to suffer anti-social-behaviour, noise and fly-tipping.

“Travellers are being brought back to Flood Street which in effect is being used as a temporary travellers site.

"The leader of the council is being careless and his actions are unacceptable and showing contempt for the people in Dudley.”

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The protest is planned to take place at 6pm, on Thursday, on Flood Street.

The topic of unauthorised traveller camps has become an ongoing political row in Dudley.

It dates back to when Dudley Council, under the Conservatives, announced plans for a temporary transient site in Coseley in 2017.

These plans were given the go ahead – but were quashed in September 2018 when Labour took control of the council.

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However the Conservatives took back control in May.

Now the council has launched an urgent bid to find a new location for a transient site ahead of next year's traveller season, which usually begins in the summer.

This latest war of words, between Labour and the Conservatives, was sparked after travellers set up camp on school playing fields at the Link Academy, Netherton, last weekend.

It forced the school to close on Thursday so the police could carry out an eviction after a high court order was obtained.

Hours later the travellers then moved onto Cot Lane Park, Kingswinford, before Dudley Council moved them onto Flood Street car park.

Councillor Harley said: “It is the lesser of two evils to move them to a redundant car park - rather than leave them on a well used park for several days - whilst the legal guys do their best to remove in a timely fashion.”

Responding to criticism from Labour, he added: "What is outrageous is the fact that the Labour Party - under councillor Qadar Zada - blocked plans for a solution to this problem.

"Until we can agree on a site for the police to move them onto, then we will continue to encounter issues such as these."

Jamie Brassington

By Jamie Brassington
Senior Multi-Media Journalist - @JamieB_Star

Senior reporter at the Express & Star. Contact me at jamie.brassington@expressandstar.co.uk.

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