WORK on a temporary travellers transit site for the Dudley borough in Coseley is now complete after years of debate.

The site on Budden Road is now fully operational and comes as Dudley Council has tougher powers to deal with unauthorised encampments.

Under the new rules travellers arriving in the borough will be immediately directed to the new site and if they refuse the police and Dudley Council officers can move them on quickly.

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 for the proposed site 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.

The project was also delayed earlier this year by the coronavirus crisis.

Speaking as work on the site was completed, councillor Patrick Harley, leader of the council, said: "We made a very firm commitment to get this site up and running to help protect public land, and the public purse from unauthorised encampments, and I am delighted that we have delivered on that promise.

"The proposals for a temporary transit site have been fully scrutinised at every step and I am pleased it is now complete."

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.

The plan was strongly opposed by residents in Coseley over fears the land could be contaminated and the proximity of the site to people's homes.

Moving to reassure residents, councillor Laura Taylor, cabinet member for housing, communities and residents’ welfare, said: "The new site is very much a deterrent. People who come here are charged for its use but it also gives us greater powers to move unauthorised encampments on quicker and cheaper which has to be good news.

"We will be closely monitoring the site as we are keen to reassure local residents, who have previously expressed concerns, about the site moving forward. That is very important to us."