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Express & Star comment: Latest traveller transit site plan poses more questions

By Star Comment | Wolverhampton | Opinions | Published:

Most people recognise that traveller transit sites are a tried and tested method of reducing the number of illegal camps in our towns and cities.

A new transit site in Wolverhampton has been proposed to curb the number of traveller encampments on public land

With the West Midlands blighted by unauthorised encampments in recent years, setting up a plot for travellers to use for a short period of time can serve as a big help to authorities and local communities.

Instead of having to deal with the piles of rubbish that are sometimes left behind, and the trouble that can arise from illegal camps, our councils and police forces can focus on their day jobs.

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In areas that already have transit sites, there has been a marked reduction in such problems.

But the big question is always the same: where on earth do you put them?

It is an issue faced by all of the councils in the Black Country, with Wolverhampton Council facing opposition to its plan for a transit site in the city.

To some extent the authority’s hands are tied when it comes to building a new site, as the requirement for one is part of the agreement that saw the High Court grant an injunction against unauthorised encampments.

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In the past 12 months, the number of illegal camps has fallen by 75 per cent as a result.

But while council bosses claim the Whitmore Reans spot is the best possible location available in the city, residents are understandably less than convinced.

This is not just a case of “not in my back yard”.

These are people who have genuine concerns about the impact a transit site will have on a part of the city which has already been starved of investment.

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We are told that ward councillors were only made aware of the plans five weeks ago, while many residents have not yet received formal notification of the scheme.

One thing that is certain, is that as the debate over this site progresses, the views of residents must be listened to and acted upon.

It will not be lost on council bosses that they are planning to spend almost £1 million of taxpayers’ money on a development that few people want in their part of the city.

This is an issue that must be handled with great care.

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