INVESTIGATION: None of £20 million fund to improve Traveller accommodation spent

By Jasmine Andersson in The Ferret

[There is a local traveller camp on the old Dennystown Forge site at Dalreoch, near the railway station,  which is over-used by travellers who overspill on to local open spaces such as Havoc Meadows and even Levengrove Park in Dumbarton. Editor]

Data revealed under a freedom of information request (FoI) has shown none of the Scottish Government’s Gypsy/Traveller accommodation fund has been allocated, and none of the money transferred to local authorities since it was unveiled in March 2021.

Twelve councils put in bids for the funding, designated for “significant renovation on existing sites and the building of new sites” for Gypsy Roma and Traveller communities in Scotland over the next five years.

Community members told The Ferret they “have been waiting decades for improvements to substandard accommodation,” reporting years of dealing with termite infestations, sewage spillages and mould that has run rampant in their homes. 

But delays to the project meant the first councils only discovered their bids were successful at the start of 2022.

In a letter shown to The Ferret updating interested parties on the project, a lack of construction experts and Covid-19 is said to have delayed the Convention of Local Scottish Authorities (Cosla) approving the plans.

Local volunteers who help to clean up the foreshore and Havoc Meadows.

“This is particularly important as it is a difficult time for the construction industry and we need to make some final checks,” the November 2021 update said.

“This means that we are not yet able to tell local authorities which sites have been identified as the best fit for demonstration projects. We will do this as soon as we are able to and update community members on the decision.”

The accommodation fund is part of a wider plan to improve living conditions for the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities, with the community experiencing worse health, employment and housing outcomes than the average population.

But years of discrimination, compounded by delays to commitments and pledges to improve the lives of the community, have left several people feeling frustrated and distrustful after experiencing a string of broken promises.

West Dunbartonshire Council’s SNP administration refuse to comment on the matter. The whole story is on The Ferret website.

Picture: Travellers take up temporary residence at Levengrove Park in Dumbarton.

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