Temporary travellers' site in Coseley could become permanent under council plans

A temporary travellers’ site in Coseley which has been mired in controversy could be made a permanent fixture under current council plans.

The site in Budden Road, Coseley, has been mired in controversy, including a dispute between Dudley Council and West Midlands Police
The site in Budden Road, Coseley, has been mired in controversy, including a dispute between Dudley Council and West Midlands Police

The site on Budden Road has been a major point of contention for Dudley Council, after police refused to move on travellers from the site last year over concerns "their human rights would be infringed".

This was despite a group staying at the site for longer than the 28-day period allowed by law.

The dispute between Dudley Council and West Midlands Police led council leader Patrick Harley to say "we feel badly let down by the police" and call for the borough's police commander Kim Madill to be "moved from Dudley borough because I have lost all confidence in her ability to be impartial".

Councillor Harley was then hauled in front of a standards committee earlier this year, after accusing Madill of belonging to the “woke brigade”.

Senior Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg even waded into the row in the House of Commons, insisting it was "fundamental" the law was carried out by the police.

Mr Rees-Mogg said the decision "sets a terrible precedent for councils across the country, who may find they have wasted taxpayers' money by following legislation set out by the place to invest in designated sites."

The site in Budden Road, Coseley, has been mired in controversy, including a dispute between Dudley Council and West Midlands Police

Despite seeking a High Court injunction last November to get the travellers expelled from the site, the council has since changed course and is submitting plans to make the site permanent.

Dudley Council now claims the site has caused "a significant drop" in illegal encampments since it opened, giving the council and police greater powers to deal with those who do set up illegal encampments.

The council says such encampments can then be moved on from council land quickly and more efficiently, enabling them to provide more effective support to private landowners.

Councillor Laura Taylor-Childs, cabinet member for housing and communities, said: "We were very clear at the time that the site was very much needed to tackle the number of illegal encampments and the cost to the taxpayer in moving them, and I am delighted that this has been proven right.

"The number of incursions has dropped sharply and that is all down to the Budden Road site which I am sure will be welcome news to everyone.

"The planning application will determine whether or not we can make this a permanent site and build on the excellent results to date and, if approved, will ensure we can continue to put the needs of local people first."

In the two years before the Budden Road site opened (June 2018 – May 2020) there were 44 incursions on council land totalling 457 days, taking an average 10 days to evict.

Since the transit site opened (June 2020 – May 2022) that figure has dropped to 11 incursions on council land totalling 37 days, taking an average of three days to evict or relocate, with six of the 11 incursions relocating to the Budden Road site.

The site in Budden Road, Coseley, has been mired in controversy, including a dispute between Dudley Council and West Midlands Police

Elsewhere in the borough, since June 2022 there has been just one incursion at Ketley Fields, Kingswinford.

Due to its success, a planning application will be submitted by the council to make the site a permanent fixture.

The current 40-pitch temporary site was granted planning permission in September 2018 before opening two years later.

However, that permission expires in August 2023 prompting the latest application to make it permanent.

An application has been made to the Department for Levelling Up and Communities to make improvements to the site, but there are no plans to increase capacity at the site.

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