A SHORTLIST made up of potential locations for Warrington’s £2 million transit site for travellers has been finalised – more than two years behind schedule.

The sites being considered remain a closely guarded secret but council leader Cllr Russ Bowden confirmed the process is making significant progress during the leader’s forum at Culcheth Community Campus on Tuesday.

It was intended that a shortlist would be finalised by January 2017 but the matter has faced major delays.

Labour’s Cllr Bowden, who chairs the travellers task group, was pressed on the issue by Warrington Conservatives chairman Paul Campbell in the forum.

Former borough councillor and parliamentary candidate Mr Campbell said: “With travellers, we have a problem with Silver Lane and it costs the council a lot of money to move them every time.

“How far on are we with having a travellers site in Warrington?”

The authority has almost £2 million set aside to fund a transit camp – and Cllr Bowden says the budget remains the same.

The Birchwood councillor said: “We’ve had two working groups now, the current one which I chair.

“We have been going through that process.

“We looked at 350 sites last time and we ended up with a list of six and none of them were deliverable or achievable.

“None of the sites we got to at that time were appropriate.

“But we are however progressing alternative potential options for a small number of sites.

“I expect a recommendation through the task group and then the executive board in the near future.”

With the all-out council elections scheduled for May 2020, some have suggested the issue has been put back until after the elections.

However, Cllr Bowden says he is ‘not bothered’ about the election timeframe.

“The right decision is still the right decision whenever it needs to be made,” he said.

READ > Local plan with up to 7,000 homes on green belt land approved

The leader also told Mr Campbell the authority wants to get in a position of being on the ‘front foot’ by providing a transit site, while avoiding the ‘repeated clash’ with the settled community.

“What we are clear on is the right strategy isn’t just being reactive every time and cleaning up when they leave sites in a horrendous mess,” he added.

“If you provide transit provision, police can immediately move travellers on.”