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Tensions high as people living near Coseley traveller transit site hit out

By Jamie Brassington | Coseley | Property | Published:

Angry residents claim a council failed to carry out proper assessments around a temporary traveller site which will be built.

Left to right, Residents Tony Sheldon, Len Ridney, Alana Fellows and Jennie Watson who are concerned about the planned traveller transit site

Dudley Council has made a U-turn by bringing back plans to build the transit site on land off Budden Road in Coseley.

Council leader Councillor Patrick Harley says the site will help tackle illegal encampments more quickly across Dudley borough.

He says the authority has "exhausted every alternative" in a bid to find the right site.

It came as Wolverhampton Council revealed a revised plan to create its own transit site in Whitmore Reans.

Residents, whose homes are close to the Budden Road site, highlighted reasons why they believe it is not appropriate.

The site is currently a grassy field located next to an industrial estate and surrounded by homes.

But it was once home to industries and residents claim this has contaminated the ground.

They also believe the site could bring traffic problems. And they also suggest other locations for the transit site, including in Lye, were not fully explored.

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Tony Sheldon, 72, from Gough Road, Coseley, who has spearheaded the opposition campaign group, said: "It just shows what Patrick Harley [Dudley Council's leader] is like, he has done a complete U-turn on us.

"He promised us three times since last March, when he became leader, that it wouldn't be here.

"He found a new site, it was by a recycling centre in Lye. And that is where it was going to go.

"Twice he has said to us 'we are not going to put it in Coseley'.

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"So yes we feel betrayed by the decision. He has now turned his back on that site."

Fellow resident Jennie Watson, 57, from Central Drive, Coseley, said: "You can see from the traffic, this is what we have all day long until 6pm.

Parked cars, 40 foot wagons and trailers, it is not going to work is it?

"It is on a major walk to school, so you have got school children up and down all day."

Land off Budden Road, in Coseley, which is the location for a traveller transit site

Len Ridney, 71, from Gough Road, whose wife is Labour councillor Sue, said: "The one thing that is a bit galling is that the local councillors and my wife [councillor] Sue Ridney has contacted the council to get a play park built, which would cost £60,000 to £70,000, as I understand it.

"Yet they are willing to spend £280,000 on a traveller's site but they say they have got no money for the play park."

Harold Webb, 77, Central Drive, added: "I think the plans are terrible. We don't have enough room up here with skip lorries. The way it is, terrible, you can't move.

Dudley Council will go-ahead with the plan almost a year after they were shelved by the previous ruling authority.

The Conservative-run authority confirmed the £300,000 work will start within weeks.

Walsall Council is also working on its own plans and Sandwell Council already has a transit site in place.

Dudley Council said it faced "increasing pressure" to avoid illegal encampments being pushed into the borough from elsewhere in the Black Country.

Speaking at the time of the announcement earlier this week, Councillor Harley, 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."

He added: "We really have exhausted every alternative in a bid to find the right site, and that is Budden Road."

Jamie Brassington

By Jamie Brassington
Senior Multi-Media Journalist - @JamieB_Star

Senior reporter at the Express & Star. Contact me at jamie.brassington@expressandstar.co.uk.

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