By Bill Heaney
West Dunbartonshire Council and Argyll & Bute can now apply to a new fund which will help to provide more and better accommodation for traveller communities.
This funding will help to build experience and skills in traveller site development by focusing on demonstration projects which establish examples of model sites for those travellers who lives on sites such as the one at the Phoenix Park, near Dalreoch railway station in Dumbarton.
Improving accommodation and sites is a key part of Scotland’s first long-term national housing strategy, as well as part of the Scottish Government and COSLA’s joint Gypsy/Traveller Action Plan.
Equalities Minister Christina McKelvie said: “It is vital that we improve the accommodation and sites for the Gypsy/Traveller community. This £20 million funding will be focused initially on the development of demonstration projects to establish model sites, and builds on £2 million funding provided in 2020-21 for immediate improvements to all sites.
“We are working in partnership with members of the Gypsy/Traveller community and local authorities to develop a design guide for sites. It will set the standard for new accommodation and ensure our Housing 2040 principles, such as accessibility and energy efficiency, are factored in to planning.”
West Dunbartonshire Council’s SNP administration, which is constantly locked in in-fighting at present over issues such as this, made looking after travellers one of their priorities at the recent parliamentary election when Labour MSP Jackie Baillie increased her majority over them.
Councillor Kelly Parry, COSLA’s Community Wellbeing spokesperson, said: “The creation of a new funding programme over the next five years for Gypsy/Traveller accommodation is a fantastic step forward for our communities. This money will help to build homes that are fit for the future and is going to show what is possible in the design of modern sites.
“Combined with local investment from councils, the fund will make a meaningful difference to the quality of accommodation that is available and the initial projects will blaze the trail for more developments over time.”
Pictures: An illegal traveller camp site at Dumbarton’s showpiece Levengrove Park and (bottom) some of the mess they left the place in when they pulled out.