Scotland politics

No legal move to provide traveller sites

Scottish councils should not be legally required to provide sites for gypsy-travellers in favour of a less direct approach, the government has said.

Housing minister Margaret Burgess said placing statutory obligations on local authorities would not resolve the issue.

Ms Burgess told MSPs she favoured working with groups like council umbrella body Cosla.

She was speaking before a Holyrood inquiry into gypsy travellers' lives.

The Scottish Parliament's equal opportunities committee previously heard from members of the community, who said they encountered problems, particularly with formal sites and access to services.

Asked if government should legislate to force councils to provide sites, Ms Burgess said: "I don't see that as resolving it because, at the end of the day, it's still them that need to determine where that site's going to be.

"I think we'll be back to where we are just now."

The minister went on: "It's more about encouraging, working with Cosla. Yes, we must make it very clear that we expect all stakeholders to be involved.

"One of the main stakeholders is clearly the gypsy-traveller community."

Ms Burgess said there was more for the government to do, because "it's clearly not working at the moment".

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