[Shaun Walker, Section Leader, to present traveller protocol]
Shaun Walker, Section Leader, gave a short introduction to the briefing paper and explained that the Board had requested an update on proposals to respond to the issue of unauthorised encampments. The Section Leader commented on the findings and recommendations of the task and finish group that had been set up to look at the response from different agencies to an incident at Ashmore Park.
The Section Leader commented on improved working relationships with the police since the protocol was agreed. The communications protocol makes clear the circumstances where the Council would expect the police to take the lead in responding to an unauthorised encampment. The protocol has been signed by the former Chief Supt Simon Hyde and Ross Cook Service Director – City Environment, Place.
The Section Leader advised the Board on the work being done to protect known hot spot sites which are targeted by travellers and gypsy community. A report on preventative action to deter encampments has been presented to Cabinet. Cabinet approved the funding of specific works to make these hot spot sites more secure.
The Section Leader commented on the work done to improve the sharing of intelligence between the police and local authorities and the public of possible incidents.
The Section Leader advised that discussions are on-going with other local authorities about alternative sites across the Black Country region that could be used by the gypsy and travelling community.
The Board welcomed the report and the excellent progress made in producing the member guide and protocol. The Board discussed the role of elected members and suggested that the protocol should include them as specific group to be contacted when a large scale incursion is suspected or an event that is likely to attract a large number of travellers.
The Section Leader welcomed the comment and agreed to make the suggested change to the wording in the communication protocol. The Board suggested that the guide and protocol should be included as part of induction or training for all Councillors.
The Board discussed the merits of using social media to keep residents updated about a large scale traveller incursion and the role of members in responding to any queries. The Board discussed the circumstances where social media would be used and how this would be managed. The Board suggested that Wolverhampton Today Facebook site should be used to update the public, rather than social media pages of ward members. The Board suggested that the issue should be discussed further with Ian Fegan, Head of Communications, to suggest how to keep the public informed and responding to media enquiries in response to an incident.
The Section Leader agreed to make the suggested changes to the protocol. An updated draft of the protocol will be sent to the Board.
1. The Board noted the briefing paper and the guide for elected members and welcomed the progress made.
2. The Section Leader agreed to make the suggested changes to the guide and share a final draft with the Board.
3. Ian Fegan, Head of Communication, to advise the Board on using Wolverhampton Today Facebook site to inform the public about how the Council and partners are responding to an issue involving travellers.