Dudley Council in discussions to create designated site for travellers

Creating a purpose-built site for travellers in the borough is the way forward to help crack down on illegal encampments, Dudley Council’s leader believes.

A series of illegal incursions on council land has cost the authority thousands this year and left politicians and the police struggling to know how to keep parks and areas of open space traveller free into the future.

Councillor Patrick Harley, Dudley Council’s new leader, believes the best way forward would be to create a transient site for settlers which would mean they would be breaking the law if they pitched up on any other patch of land in the borough and which would give police the power to order them to move immediately to the purpose-created site.

Currently, as there is no specific transient site for travellers in the borough, the authorities can only evict them by getting a court order for a specific piece of land or the police can use section 61 powers to order them to leave if they have been causing a nuisance to the local community. But in both cases, it usually means camps remain in situ for a few days.

Having a transient site designated for travellers – would give the authorities the power to move settlers on immediately. Cllr Harley told the Dudley News:

“If we get a site, they’ve got to go there. The police would have no choice but to shepherd them to the site. “Typically, travellers don’t like using them; they like to go on open spaces rather than a concrete yard. 

“Travellers know the law better than us – and they know if they come through our borders and we’ve got one of these sites they would have to go there. If we did have one I think the number of visits would be less than we’re having now.

“Sandwell have got one and their number of visits has plummeted. I believe this is the way forward.”

Chief Superintendent Richard Fisher, from Dudley police, said following a series of encampments last summer, which left authorities in Dudley with an £80,000 plus bill, he has “spoken at length with council colleagues and political leaders with regards to the limitations of the current legislation, how best we can take forward the recommendations government have previously made with regards to transit sites, which travellers can be directed to in order to minimise the wider impact to communities, and other legal options available to police and the council”.

And after police evicted a group of travellers from Withymoor, Brierley Hill, on Wednesday (July 5), he said a further meeting was set to take place with council officials to “discuss a plan for moving forward”.


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