At a full council meeting on Monday 15th July, Walsall Labour group tabled a motion to call for a legal transit site to be identified and established within Walsall to address ongoing issues with unauthorised encampments across the borough.
The Walsall Labour motion was rejected and defeated unanimously by the Conservative council members and cabinet. It said that a working party had been established to discuss the issue and will include consultation with residents before any site is identified before commencing a lengthy planning process.
Walsall Labour leader Councillor Aftab Nawaz said: “By no means do I want to discriminate against travelling communities.
“They are a community to be respected, they’ve got a rich culture they should be proud of and we should be proud of seeing that culture.
“But there are a minority of incidents where we have unauthorised encampments that create a lot of disruption and distress amongst the non-travelling community.
“Our notice of motion is a pragmatic approach looking at the way Sandwell’s done it but not asking for that to be totally replicated because we would have a transit site that provides services and enable officers to interact with the travelling community.
“But it is also factual that in Sandwell, where they have set up a transit site they have reduced unauthorised encampments to almost zero. They’ve have two and last year we had 16.
“Administrations have been looking at this issue for quite a long time and our motion puts a three-month time limit on it because the longer we leave it the more incidents we have of unauthorised encampments.
“The public are losing confidence in the council to deal with these issues.”
With residents of Blakenall, Bloxwich, Brownhills, Rushall, and Shelfield suffering the after effects of no action being taken on illegal encampments in recent months, this issue is not simply going to go away. This action by the cabinet and Walsall Conservatives will delay any solution to the ongoing problems, and will only cause more frustrations with affected residents. Walsall needs a solution now, not for this issue to be kicked into the long grass.
Walsall Labour will continue to fight for a solution to be found as soon as possible to help bring an end to the issue of unauthorised encampments across our borough.