COUNCIL leader Cllr Russ Bowden admits he hoped Warrington’s £2 million transit site for travellers would have been operating by now.

It was intended that a shortlist made up of potential locations for a transit camp in the town would be finalised by January 2017.

But the matter continues to face major delays.

However, Cllr Bowden, who chairs the travellers task group, insists the process cannot be rushed as the authority must ‘get it right’.

He added: “I don’t think we will find the perfect site, if there was one around we would already have it.

“But there is a lot of work officers do behind the scenes to look at options – it is a moving situation.

“We have a group of councillors that have been looking at this for a while and I think everyone takes their responsibility seriously.

“The site has to be credible, affordable and deliverable.

“I am frustrated because I hoped we could have made more progress but it emphasises to me how difficult it is.

“We have looked at a small number of potential sites but have decided that none of those were achievable and deliverable.

“I really hoped that we could have got that site shortlisted and through the appropriate process, including planning, and up and running by now.”

Cllr Bob Barr, leader of the town’s Liberal Democrats, admits it is ‘not an easy problem to solve’.

He said: “Warrington needs a permanent travellers’ transit site to protect other areas of land against unlawful encampment.

“The council has already spent many years seeking professional advice and involving cross-party working groups, bound by confidentiality, in an objective site-selection process.

“However, failing to explain to the public what causes the delay, when a site is likely to be chosen and when it may be opened, is unacceptable.

“An open and transparent council working hard to solve a problem for its community should have nothing to fear from being more communicative about the process.”