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Work to start on temporary travellers site

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Unauthorised traveller encampments will soon be dealt with quicker and cheaper after plans for a temporary site in Coseley were put back on the table.

Dudley Council already has planning and council approval for a site in Budden Road.

The plans were shelved while the council carried out further extensive searches for an alternative site.

But the plans for the temporary Coseley site are back on the table with work due to start on site in the next few weeks with completion expected late Spring. It will be open for two years.

The introduction of the temporary transit site gives the council, in partnership with police, additional legal powers to remove any unauthorised encampments which target open spaces in the borough.

Sandwell already has a site in place and Wolverhampton and Walsall are also looking at potential sites – increasing pressure on Dudley Council to avoid a displacement of unauthorised encampments from elsewhere in the Black Country. Evidence from Sandwell suggests that the site will be used extremely rarely and will not cause disruption to the lives of the local community.

The £300,000 site will be monitored closely by council officers and will be under an ongoing review with council bosses keen to reassure local residents who have previously expressed concerns about the proposal.

Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of Dudley Council said:

The issue has been ongoing for years and residents have told us they are fed up with the disruption and damage that unauthorised encampments bring. Our neighbours are all looking to set up transit sites which makes us very vulnerable to illegal encampments so we have to act.
When we get reports of unauthorised encampments we start the necessary legal process quickly, but there is a delay as the legal measures take time to secure, normally between five and seven working days. When travellers do leave the site there is usually the expense of cleaning up which adds to the expense for the tax-payer.
With a transit site, the travellers, in the unlikely event that they decide to use the site rather than move out of the borough, have to pay a deposit which is returned only if the site is left in the same condition they found it.
We really have exhausted every alternative in a bid to find the right site, and that is Budden Road. What is important now is that we monitor the site closely throughout the two years and listen to the views of local people in that time, before reviewing the future of the site at the end of its tenure.”

The plans for the Budden Road site gained planning consent in September 2018 but were put on hold while a thorough search for an alternative site took place.

Residents living close to the site will be receiving letters outlining the work and timescales.

The council is currently spending around £150,000 a year on legal fees and clean-up costs.

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