There have been travellers setting up temporary camps throughout the area for a number of months now. The group of travellers that have been camping at Cofton Park for around a week were moved on by Birmingham City Council this evening.
BCC had served the travellers with a seven day notice last week, but they tried to get around this by leaving the site and then returning the following day.
After local residents had complained about the amount of mess and dangerous waste that they were leaving in the park, BCC sent in an emergency team to remove them from the site today.
Residents are now hoping for a quick clean up of the rubble, waste and excrement left in Cofton Park and looking for answers as to how illegal encampments can be prevented in future.
This is a difficult issue with no easy long term solutions.
Earlier, we asked Northfield MP Richard Burden for his thoughts and he sent us the following statement:
Over the last month or so we have seen travellers setting up camp behind Meadow Brook Road in Weoley, then on the Egg Hill Estate, then on Frankley and then on Cofton Park.
My appeal is twofold. First to the travellers themselves. If you do camp in this area then local people who live here deserve respect. That means clearing up and not causing damage in the areas in which you have camped. Of course, it has to go both ways. We have seen some appalling mess in the last month but some travellers do treat local people with respect and we should respond positively when they do so.
My second message is to Birmingham City Council. Council officers, the police, local Councillors like Andy Cartwright and Ian Cruise, and campaigners like Fiona Saxon in Weoley have worked hard to get travellers moved on within the law, to get the areas cleaned up afterwards and to make sure there are physical barriers to further encampments where appropriate.
But this all costs a fortune and we’ve got to move beyond this revolving door where either the Council, the Police or both move travellers on only for them to reappear a mile or two away within a few hours.
That means we have got to face the fact that there are not enough official sites on which travellers can camp in this part of the West Midlands. The one which Birmingham Council does provide in the North of the City hasn’t worked for years. The Council needs to sort that site out and work with neighbouring local authorities to provide another one elsewhere to supplement it. You can’t force travellers on to official sites but you can’t encourage them to move to useable sites that aren’t there.
We have asked Cllr Timothy Huxtable, cabinet member for Transport, Environment & Regeneration if the council has any plans to improve and extend legitimate facilities for travelling families and await his reply. Update 17th August – Mr Huxtable is away at the moment, so we are awaiting a response from the council. Longbridge Cllr Ken Wood (Con) has commented below. We have been told that the travellers have now moved near Reaside Clinic on Great Park.
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