A WORCESTER-based county councillor says officers must “grasp the nettle” over Worcestershire’s shortage of traveller sites but admits the solution is “unlikely” to found in his city.

The South Worcestershire councils of Malvern Hills District, Worcester City and Wychavon District are consulting the public on extra provision in Upton, Evesham, Aldington and Badsey.

READ MORE: Four propsed traveller sites - why are none in Worcester?

It means sites have been put forward on the Wychavon and Malvern Hills patches but not in Worcester’s but Councillor Richard Udall, who represents St John’s in the city, insists that should not be seen as a problem.

“It does not really matter where they are as long as they are accessible,” he said.

“In the past we have had the ability to open fields and say ‘there’s a camp’ but that is no longer adequate, we need proper facilities for those who wish to stay there, particularly transit camps where people are moving through.

"We don’t have sufficient transit camps anywhere in the county and that is what needs to change.

“Worcester is very tight against its boundary so I think it is very unlikely that we will find a suitable site.

“It has to be close to or within reach of Worcester because the city is a place that travellers stop off in on their way to other places, usually via the M5 and M42.

“Anywhere within south Worcestershire would be accessible and meet the needs.”

Cllr Udall supports tackling what he says is a “huge problem that means we have more than average illegal traveller camps” and is urging officers to “get their finger out” to land sites and overcome dated public perceptions.

“We need to have the willingness to do the job,” he added.

“There will always be objections, particularly from people who don’t want traveller sites close to them and that has always been the underlying problem and reason for delays.

“We have to be aware of the issues and make sure anywhere opened not only meets the needs of the travelling community but also the settled communities nearby.

“There are a lot of difficulties about preconceived ideas of what traveller sites are like and a lot of concern.

“Evidence suggests it is not always a problem and that with the right kind of management, the settled and traveller communities can live next to each other without problems. Proper facilities on sites are required for that to happen, though.

Put to him that those near the proposed sites may question why space cannot be found in Worcester, Cllr Udall replied: “It is a reasonable comment that will inevitably be made but the bottom line is we have a legal requirement that we are not currently meeting.

“What it takes is leadership from a strategic level at the county council to try to find solutions that are acceptable for all.

“I think there is an element of fear over upsetting people that is preventing that leadership from happening. We have to grasp the nettle and actually get on and do something, and do it well to make it work.

“If there is a suitable site in Worcester we will have to explore it. Let’s see if we can find it, if we can we will go for it.”