How long can Warrington carry on without a Traveller's Transit Site?

August 18, 2020 10:24 PM
By Cllr Sharon Harris

The unauthorised traveller encampment at Witherwin Avenue / Lumb Brook Road, Appleton has now moved onThe unauthorised traveller encampment at Witherwin Avenue / Lumb Brook Road, Appleton has now moved on - two days before legal enforcement. This is, indeed, good news. You will see from the picture that they have bagged up most of their rubbish and I am sure WBC will collect it asap.

Warrington needs a Transit Site. £2m has been allocated but no site identified and agreed on. Both Travellers and residents need to know that illegal encampments can be moved on and that the human rights of Travellers can be provided for. A Transit site would enable them to have access to water, electricity and other services that they would pay for.

A Freedom of Information request from Warrington Guardian in 2019 showed that more than £72,000 had been spent by the Council between 2013 and 2019 in an attempt to identify an appropriate site. I expect this total is more now and I wonder how much it has cost WBC and other agencies to set this recent Legal process to move Travellers from Witherwin Avenue in motion? This is not just a Warrington South issue but a borough-wide issue.

Councillor Russ Bowden who was leader of the Task Group said that he was not prepared to 'cut corners - residents expect us to do the job properly.' (Warrington Guardian 17.07.19)

The Task Group has not met since 25th October 2018 and all potential sites that had been brought to the Task Group appear to have been discounted. I have lost count of the number of times I have asked for an update on progress. With elections coming up in May 2021, could this lack of progress be a cynical political tactic by the ruling Labour administration? Are they trying to ensure that a Transit Site does not end up in one of their wards? I wonder how much it has cost WBC and other agencies to set this recent Legal process in motion?