A West Midlands MEP is urging Dudley’s Labour leaders to examine Sandwell’s successful Gypsy transit site before deciding whether to axe plans for one in Coseley.
James Carver said the cost and nuisance of unauthorised camps in Sandwell had been cut dramatically following the opening of the transit site almost a year ago.
Costs – particularly of fly-tipping and damage left behind – has fallen by 96 per cent from £252,000 to just £10,000 and the number of days travelling groups spent in the borough while the police and council used bailiffs and the court process to move them on, was slashed from 577 days in 2016/17 to just 33 days in 2017/18.
But over the border, Dudley taxpayers are still forking out £150,000 a year on legal fees and clean-up costs and plans for a transit site have been put on hold.
Mr Carver, an Independent Euro MP, who has Gypsy heritage, said: “Transit sites are proving to be overwhelmingly successful. They give the travelling community a place to rest, but also unlock local authority powers to move them from unauthorised camps without having to resort to protracted legal processes.
“There is a real shortage nationally of places where Gypsies and Travellers can stop, hence the growth in unauthorised encampments.
“Controlled transit sites solve the problem for the travellers and the local authorities and I urge Dudley’s council leader, Councillor Pete Lowe, to examine their benefits as experienced in Sandwell.
“I think it’s disingenuous of councillors to claim Coseley is being used as ‘dumping ground’ because the previous Conservative administration chose the council-owned site in Budden Road to convert into a transit site.
“I hope political considerations will not prevent this important facility being provided within the Dudley borough.”
Sandwell’ transit site in Smethwick can accommodate up to 36 caravans and each are charged £80 per week plus a £250 security deposit. The maximum stay allowed is 28 days.