A ROW over whether travellers who outstayed their welcome at Dudley's transit site should have been evicted continued to rumble on today.

Chief Superintendent Kim Madill, Dudley Police commander, issued an email broadcast yesterday to the public to explain the police response which unfolded after a group of travellers refused to move off the borough's transit site in Coseley which has a 28-day stay limit.

Dudley Council leader Councillor Patrick Harley had previously voiced his anger at a lack of assistance from the police to evict the group after they failed to leave the site in Budden Road on November 12, so Chief Supt Madill took the unusual step of issuing a lengthy statement to members of the public yesterday, telling people the response "was about doing the right thing, being lawful and ensuring our actions were proportionate".

She also told how the decision "was about recognising diversity, treating people with dignity and respect and as human beings as well as demonstrating our care and compassion for difference".

Today, however, cllr Harley continued to voice his frustration at the situation - sharing a letter he has sent to the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster.

In it he said he was "appalled at the complete lack of support from the police during the common law eviction process" to recover the site which was opened in August 2020 as a location for travelling families to be moved on to in the event of illegal encampments being set up elsewhere in the borough.

He said initial conversations with police suggested officers would provide support but after Chief Supt Madill took up the response "preparatory discussions which my officers had undertaken with the police were completely disregarded" and he added: "It is of course entirely lawful for the council to seek to remove trespassers under the common law power of eviction. Police officers initially did attend the site when requested. However, the police on site seemingly had orders not to support the council and the bailiffs in carrying out a lawful eviction."

He went on: "There is a protocol in place between the council and West Midlands Police which deals with traveller related issues. As such, the council reasonably expects the support and cooperation of the police in dealing with travellers but has not been supported by the police in exercising its lawful powers in this instance. Am I to assume the protocol only applies when the borough commander sees fit?"

Cllr Harley said he was aware of Chief Supt Madill's email broadcast and added: "The email does not address the fact that the council was seeking to exercise a lawful means of evicting trespassers following the expiry of the 28-day licence. Furthermore, it gives the impression the council was not justified in seeking to recover possession of the site from trespassers. Communications such as this are not helpful to the situation.

"My cabinet and I have lost all confidence in the current borough commander’s ability to support the council in issues relating to travellers."

He said the council was now engaged in legal proceedings at the High Court to ensure the travellers vacate the site and he added: "However, this is likely to be lengthy and costly process."