PCC welcomes Sandwell Council's plan for temporary transit site for travellers
Sandwell Council is considering plans to create a temporary
transit site for travellers - a move welcomed by West Midlands PCC
If approved at a meeting on March 22, the site in Smethwick
could be used by groups who would pay £80 per caravan per week to
pitch up for a short stay - plus a £250 deposit for each group.
By creating a transit site - a multi-agency approach between
Sandwell Council and West Midlands Police - police could use
previously unavailable powers to immediately remove unauthorised
encampments from council land and order travellers to move to the
transit site within an agreed time.
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David
Jamieson said: "I welcome Sandwell Council's strong and
swift response following my summit on unauthorised traveller
"Such camps impact on people's homes, businesses and public
spaces so I encourage this major step forward. This move will see
the travelling community pay for the use of the transit site and
save taxpayers money.
"I now hope other local councils follow Sandwell's lead and take
on board the best practice shared at my summit into this important
Groups who refuse to move to the transit site could be directed
from the borough by the police and prevented from returning for
The council has dealt with more than 85 unauthorised encampments
this financial year with the cost of clean-ups, site security,
bailiffs and court costs adding up to more than £250,000 in
2016/17. Unauthorised encampments also take up large amounts of
time for both the council and the police.
Sandwell Council's cabinet member for regeneration Councillor
Paul Moore said: "By creating a transit site, the police can unlock
additional legal powers to order an unauthorised encampment to
relocate to the transit site.
"Our hope is that this would significantly reduce the amount of
money the council spends on cleaning up after unauthorised
"The transit site is one of several actions we're taking to
tackle the issue of trespassing on council land in Sandwell. We
would be the only area in the West Midlands to be using these
special police powers by providing a transit site.
"Last year, 30% of the unauthorised encampments in the whole of
the West Midlands were located in Sandwell.
"Potentially, given we will have spent in excess of a quarter of
a million pounds on dealing with them this financial year, the
transit site could pay for itself very quickly.
"We need to reduce the amount of disruption and upset that
unauthorised encampments cause for our communities across
The land identified for the transit site is derelict land off
Boulton Road in Smethwick that used to have flats and maisonettes
built on it before they were demolished 15 years ago. The site is
isolated and not overlooked.
The site would have room for up to 34 caravans that would be
charged £80 per week per caravan, plus a £250 deposit for each
group staying there. There would be strict rules in place on
littering and behaviour.
The compound would have security fencing and toilet and washing
facilities in a converted shipping container. The cost of creating
the site would be around £195,000.
The plan will be considered at the council's Cabinet meeting on
March 22. If approved, a planning application would then be
Chief Superintendent Richard Baker from Sandwell Police said:
"We fully support Sandwell Council's approach of developing a
transit site within the borough.
"The demand that unauthorised encampments places on both police
and council resources is increasing year-on-year. This site will
balance the need to accommodate members of the travelling
community, most of whom are well-behaved law-abiding citizens, with
focusing resources on criminal behaviour if and when it occurs.
"The site will enable the police, working in partnership with
the council, to use additional enforcement powers that will prevent
those who refuse to comply with the legislation from returning to
Sandwell for a period of three months.
"Evidence from other locations within the UK has shown the
overall number of encampments is much lower in areas where transit