Scotland

Call to improve provision of sites for travellers

Traveller site
Image caption The report's author recommends a more strategic approach to ease problems

Scotland's travelling community is likely to face continued hostility unless there is action to provide it with proper sites, it has been warned.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said there were positive examples but also tensions and confusion over funding and planning.

Lack of provision was blamed for stoking hostility to Gypsy Travellers "pulling in" at some locations.

In 2014 there were 59 named sites in 18 local authority areas in Scotland.

The EHRC has been studying how councils have been developing dedicated sites amid claims of struggles to secure land or planning permission.

High profile areas

The report noted funding was a "significant barrier" for councils, and found that many are uncertain over the extent to which they should be developing accommodation.

Alastair Pringle, director of EHRC Scotland, said: "Over the last year we have seen, once again, tension in some parts of Scotland concerning the development of temporary or permanent sites for Gypsy Travellers, either in private or public ownership.

"This ongoing lack of provision is forcing many Gypsy Travellers into 'pulling in' at the roadside, often in high profile areas and then risking eviction and local hostility.

"The research shows that with planning and care it is perfectly possible to develop new Gypsy Traveller sites in Scotland."

Mr Pringle called for a "co-ordinated and coherent approach" to be set out in the government's Gypsy Traveller strategy due to be published later this year.

He added: "Without proper provision the community is likely to continue to face hostility and councils are likely to waste more money on avoidable evictions."

'Strengthened planning'

Phil Brown, professor of social change at the University of Salford, who carried out the research, said: "Taking a strategic rather than ad hoc approach is also recommended as the more transparent the council is the more likely they will have public support."

Communities Secretary Alex Neil said: "The Scottish government has already strengthened local strategic planning for accommodation in relation to the needs of Gypsy Travellers, by publishing revised guidance for housing need and demand assessments and local housing strategies.

"This is to help make sure that the accommodation needs of Gypsy Travellers are fully taken into account by local authorities as they plan accommodation provision in their area."

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