Protesters fighting to remove a gypsy camp from the Meriden green belt have attacked council planners for allowing temporary development on the site to go ahead.
Campaigners took part in a stand-off after diggers arrived on the site off Eaves Green Lane to allow the travellers to create drainage systems.
Solihull Council granted permission for the travellers to undertake “temporary works” necessary to address immediate health, safety and welfare needs.
The move infuriated members of campaign group Residents Against Inappropriate Development (RAID), which has been maintaining a 24-hour vigil in protest at the site for the past two months since the gypsies first arrived.
The residents hoped an application to build a permanent camp on the site would be thrown out at a planning committee on July 7.
RAID chairman David McGrath said: “We are very disappointed that council officers chose to tell local residents two hours before close of play that new work is being allowed on site.
"It is akin to the gypsies’ strategy of putting in a planning application two hours before the Bank Holiday to avoid consultation. We fully recognise the need to address issues of common humanity but the way that officers have gone about this is bonkers.”
Solihull Council said the temporary works which include installing a drainage system and a fence around a pond were in accordance with a High Court injunction granted on May 21 allowing them to negotiate with the applicants.
A spokesman for Solihull Council said: “In granting the injunction the judge was satisfied that the council recognised its responsibilities to the proper needs of those who are rightly or wrongly on the site.”
Meriden MP Caroline Spelman said she had written to the council questioning whether the work was necessary this week given its proximity to the planning committee and the concerns of local residents over the land.
RAID members vowed to continue maintaining a presence at their two makeshift camps at the site while the dispute continues.
Solihull Council leader Ian Hedley said he understood residents’ concerns but added that should a planning appeal follow next week’s planning decision, the travellers could remain on the site for months.