HOUSING: Improving accommodation for Gypsy/Traveller communities

04 Jun 2021 12:09

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.

2 comments

  1. Thanks for posting this Bill. I have asked the Council to put a bid in from this £20m pot to secure resources to build another travellers site as the one at West Bridgend is always full.

    1. Now this is a difficult one, Jim. I can’t see you agreeing to a new site at say Tontine Park in Renton or the former caravan park at Tullichewan. You may well say it’s a NIMBY thing. But not everyone wants to support the travellers (why they ever stopped calling them tinkers I have no idea because that was a trade and skilful one at that) to have a decent accommodation. Until the council suggests that the new facility is next door to them. The reason for this? Well, you just have to look at the pictures above. No one wants that mess on their doorstep. So what does society do? Compassion says the tinkers have to go somewhere; that their children need to have access to the same education and other services as the rest of society. They need to have access to hospitals and health centres and subsidised housing. And welfare payments too. People like Ian Miller and myself would like to see them settle down, but that’s not in their nature. They are peripatetic. It’s in their blood to roam. They have no fixed abode and are numbered with nomads. They are special people but how far should society go in making special provision for them if they simply upsticks and walk away from that? If they clearly don’t appreciate what’s being done for them? If they leave the kind of mess illustrated in the pictures above? Do we want to spend large amounts of public money creating facilities for travelling people when we have much poorer people having to use food banks? When old people cannot afford to heat their homes? Tinkers are like others in a number of ways. There are rich tinkers and poor tinkers . I could go on. I wonder what other Democrat readers think about this issue.

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