COUNCILLORS have called for answers after finding out a Lye factory unit is being used to house Romanian workers.

Police and Dudley Council have reportedly been made aware of the situation but the authorities have been accused of "turning a blind eye to exploitation" by Cradley and Wollescote councillor Richard Body.

He told the News that his council colleague Gaye Partridge, who lost her seat as a local councillor for the area at the May election, first raised the issue with the council back in January and he said: "I've not heard a dicky bird since."

It is not clear how many people have been residing at the industrial unit, which has been converted into units of accommodation, but it is believed that one of the occupants is a child.

A council briefing note regarding the matter noted in March that "those living at the premises were safe and well, clean, in general good health and with food available" and they were later confirmed to be paying rent and working in a bakery and following a police visit it was confirmed there were no immigration issues.

Councillor Richard Body, however, has branded the situation "disgusting" and he said: "These people are being exploited. This should not be happening in one of the wealthiest countries in the world."

He has asked us not to reveal the exact location of the building, which sits in a largely residential street, and he is now demanding answers regarding its ownership and whether planning permission was ever legally obtained for a change of use and he said: "It's been an industrial unit for as long as I can remember. Old factory units have asbestos. No-one should be living under an asbestos roof. You can't do that - it's illegal."

But he said some people living in the UK have "come from somewhere where even a factory is a roof over your head" and he hit out at council chiefs who were made aware of the situation - accusing them of "having no concern at all for exploitation".

Fellow ward councillor Tim Crumpton also expressed "grave concerns" about the matter and called for action and answers and he added: "The problems facing these people are akin to the Dark Ages, reporting such concerns just four or five years ago forced a response from the council and other partners who had turned a blind eye to the point of refusing to accept the problems in our community. We must act and we need to know the answers to the questions Richard and Gaye put forward with urgency."

Councillor Laura Taylor, Dudley Council's cabinet member for housing, communities and residents' welfare, said: “We are aware of this and have contacted the owner of the factory.

"We have offered initial advice to the occupants and ensured they are safe and well.

"We will now be looking at the best options for them. We can’t go into the personal details of the circumstances of these people who have a right to privacy the same as anyone else.”

She dismissed Cllr Body's claim that the authority had "turned a blind eye" to the problem and said: "It is clear from information provided that the council has not turned a blind eye and work has been ongoing to ensure the safety and security of those involved.

"Exploitation of any kind is taken incredibly seriously and will be dealt with accordingly."