A TEMPORARY stopping site is being set up in Taunton for the travelling community passing through Somerset.

The facility is being set up at council-owned Enfield Car Park in Tangier from July 6. It will likely remain open until October.

Throughout the pandemic, traveller, gypsy and Roma communities have faced struggles accessing clean water, and sticking to government rules regarding social distancing, self isolation, and restricting travel.

In Somerset a multi-agency group was formed to ensure a county-wide response to these concerns. This group is represented by Avon and Somerset Police, Community Council for Somerset, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue, Mendip District Council, NHS Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group, Sedgemoor District Council, Somerset County Council, Somerset West and Taunton District Council, and South Somerset District Council.

The group has considered national guidance and recommendations set out by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to ensure that all parts of society are kept safe during this time.

The council says those arriving in Somerset or have already stopped here will be able to have a safe space to stay.

This could mean accommodating people where they have stopped by providing basic sanitation and support around adhering to national guidance, or relocation to one of the temporary sites in direct response to the pandemic that are being set up around Somerset.

The carpark will not be used as a public carpark while the facility is in place.

The temporary stopping facility will provide access to clean water and sanitation. Household waste will be collected daily. There will be controlled access to the site. There is other similar provision elsewhere within the county.

A spokesperson for Somerset West and Taunton Council said: "It is important to stress that this is a public health response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the health of everyone currently in Somerset is paramount, be those travelling communities or those living in settled communities, and to avoid preventable deaths.

"As national restrictions are relaxed, we are committed to working with people within the Gypsy, Traveller or Roma communities to ensure that they are able to move on safely within the sphere of the national guidance. In the meantime, all agencies involved will be providing support to anyone currently travelling through Somerset and the communities around them."

In June SWT set up temporary measures at Blackbrook Leisure Centre to deter travellers from moving on to the site.

But the boulders were moved aside for caravans to get through.

The council said it would work towards a more permanent solution.

NOTE: We have removed the comment facility on this story due to continued racism.