A TRANSIT site for travellers in the Dudley borough is expected to be up and running in Coseley in August, it has been confirmed.

The announcement comes as Dudley Council has signed an agreement with West Midlands Police to speed up how it deals with illegal encampments on public land.

The temporary transit site, based on Budden Road, will be run by the local authority and comes after council chiefs selected the location in January.

Plans for a site, which were first mooted in 2016, have been the subject of much debate between councillors in their bid to find a suitable location for travellers arriving in the borough.

The previous Labour administration shelved plans in Coseley in favour of finding an alternative location in 2019, before the current Conservative council announced in January the site would be going ahead on Budden Road, sparking opposition from nearby residents and opposition councillors.

Meanwhile, councillors and police have this week signed a new agreement to help quickly move on unauthorised encampments in the borough.

Councillor Laura Taylor, cabinet member for housing, communities and residents’ welfare, said: "This is about setting out very clearly, how we are going to work together to tackle unauthorised traveller encampments in the borough. We have to make sure we do everything we can to minimise disruption for residents while exercising our increased powers in being able to move travellers to the new transit site.

"The transit site is very much a deterrent, and from our research into similar sites, we expect it to be very rarely used. What it does do is give us greater powers, along with our partners in the police, to move unauthorised encampments on quicker.

"I very much welcome this new protocol which cements an already excellent working relationship with the police."

Members of unauthorised encampments will be asked to relocate to the transit site and failure to comply could lead to enforcement actions, arrests, vehicles being seized and being banned from returning to the borough for three months.

Sally Bourner, chief superintendent, Dudley neighbourhood policing unit commander, added: "Our work as a partnership in Dudley has resulted in a robust joint protocol to address unauthorised encampments. This strikes a balance between supporting both the settled and also the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities in our borough.

"Dudley Council will take the lead with support from Dudley Police to unlock special powers which allow the police to direct Unauthorised Encampments to a designated site.

"The use of the transit site will see a reduction in unauthorised camps in Dudley and provide support to travelling families, providing a consistent approach."

The pressure was on for Dudley to secure a transit site, as neighbouring Sandwell has a site in place and Wolverhampton and Walsall are also looking at potential locations, putting the borough at risk of displacement of unauthorised encampments from elsewhere in the Black Country.

Dudley Council currently spends around £150,000 a year on legal fees and clean-up costs following unauthorised traveller incursions.