I am glad to be speaking about this eagerly awaited Bill because of its importance for the residents of Wolverhampton. I have campaigned and will continue to do so for a safer and cleaner Wolverhampton. I want the residents to be able to walk clean streets day or night and feel safe.
I fully support the Bill and know that it will be welcomed by many of my constituents. I believe in tougher sentencing for child murderers and sex offenders. I approve of the crackdown on knife crime and violent crime, especially to protect emergency workers. Last year, I conducted a community survey. One of the top areas of concern for my residents—even in a pandemic—was crime. Residents are always getting in touch with me about different issues that the Bill addresses. They do not want to see thefts, fly-tipping and unauthorised encampments, and that last point has probably caused me more work than anything as an MP.
Wolverhampton has beautiful parks such as Bantock and West Park, and over the years, these have been home to unauthorised encampments. I want to make it clear that the majority of the Traveller community are law-abiding citizens who cause no trouble in the local community. We in Wolverhampton did see that, but we have also experienced major problems. To deal with that, Wolverhampton Council took out an injunction, giving it extra powers to move unauthorised encampments. Part of the injunction was to build a transit site. I have no problem with that, and I understand that there needs to be a place for the Traveller community to visit. The site chosen was Gorsebrook Road in Dunstall, which is still one of the most deprived areas in Wolverhampton. It was not welcomed by the residents or by the Traveller community. The cost to build the transit site, in an area that I have championed as a nature trail for local schools and residents, is £1 million. The Bill will negate the need for an injunction at the transit site in its current form. I know that work is under way, but I will continue to ask City of Wolverhampton Council, as I do again now, to pause the work, wait for the legislation to be passed, save money, develop the nature trail and build a legacy for generations to come.