THE spectre of invading Cockney benefit tourists has been raised again by Sandwell Council's top brass who claim London authorities are preparing to "dump" poor families in the borough.

Two months after the High Court banned the council's policy of withholding council tax benefit for new residents there is evidence Brent and Newham Councils are relocating benefit claimants into Sandwell.

Deputy council leader Councillor Steve Eling said: "Within just weeks of the court's judgement that deemed there was no evidence of people being relocated from London to Sandwell, a London borough has placed a family here and another has confirmed it will be dumping poor families in Sandwell, apparently taking advantage of cheaper rent here.

"This is a direct result of the court's judgement in the case of Brent Council and would appear to apply equally to the others. As a result, we're powerless to stop this happening."

He added: "We believe some of these families don't want to come here either because it takes them away from family and friends."

In a memo entitled Out of Area Placement Notification seen by the News Brent Council warned Sandwell Council officers of its plans.

The memo said: "We are housing tenants again in the Sandwell Council area due to the change in the council tax status.

"We will be housing clients in temporary accommodation and emergency hotel accommodation (mainly houses) with offers of two year tenancies."

The memo also revealed Brent Council would be advising Hammersmith and Fulham Council to do the same.

Cllr Eling said: "This will create an added burden on Sandwell Council taxpayers who will now have to pick up 100 per cent of the bill for these extra families who can't afford to pay council tax - as well as potentially for families that London boroughs have already placed here.

"That's why we introduced the two-year residency rule in the first place, to protect Sandwell taxpayers and Sandwell families who are most in need."

However, the Child Poverty Action Group took the council to the High Court over the two-year residency rule and won, leaving the council with egg on its face and a £40,000 legal bill.

Cllr Eling added: "Following the court's judgement, we've had no choice but to suspend that policy. We'll now have to either make further cuts or ask everyone - including the most vulnerable and poorest people in the borough - to pay something towards their council tax bill.

He added: "Following the court's judgement, we now have a £1.6 million shortfall in the money to cover the cost of council tax discounts."

The council now claims there will either have to be cuts to services or a rise in taxes to cover the £1.6 million.

Cradley Heath and Old Hill Councillor John Tipper said: "Whatever the finances of the matter is we have to remember these people who are coming into Sandwell are probably not coming by choice and are human beings who should not be demonised.

"I hope the people of Sandwell offer the hand of friendship to these newcomers."