Many may know the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) held a region wide summit on Friday, bringing representatives from local authorities and police to examine how a joined up strategy can be adopted to tackle problems created when illegal encampments occur.
The event was covered by ITV Central News and they came to Monkspath, Solihull to interview the PCC, myself and two local Monkspath residents. This link directs you to one of a few posts on this website reporting on when travellers have visited and problems occurred: https://cllrkenhawkins.co.uk/2015/01/23/monkspath-park-travellers-issues/
The whole summit can be viewed the webcast of the summit. It is a few hours long but you are able to see sections relating to different speakers: http://westmidspcc.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/267027
A FIVE POINT action plan was adopted:
- One set of protocols for the police and West Midlands councils
- Clear, concise, real-time information that is easily shared.
- Joined-up approach to identify and secure at-risk sites.
- Explore the option of ‘negotiated stopping’
- Use of transit sites
- Ensure local councils provide adequate transit sites, which are designated temporary spaces with electricity and bathrooms.
- Explore the option of ’emergency stopping places’.
- The Land Commission should consider provision for the travelling community in its spatial strategy deliberations.
- Better protection for private businesses
- Stronger police powers for private businesses that currently incur all costs if an unauthorised encampment sets up on its land.
- Campaign to make it a criminal offence to occupy business premises
- Share staff
- Share staff across councils to be more efficient and effective, especially out of hours.
- Have single points of contact to make it easy for partners and to build up relations in travelling communities.
- Better cross-border work in the wider West Midlands
- Improve the way information is shared across West Midlands borders.
- Look at how the WMCA could improve this via its non-constituent members.
I am grateful to the PCC for considering the issues we have in Solihull and the opportunity to highlight issues especially Blythe ward, where we have seen several illegal encampments in recent years where damage was caused to the Hillfield Local Nature Reserve gates to secure entry.