Travellers 'anxious and distressed' after being served eviction notice

More than 20 people live on wasteland based behind a supermarket in the Granton area of the capital.

A community of travellers in the Granton area of Edinburgh say they’ve been left in a state of uncertainty and of “anxiety and distress” after being served an eviction notice.

More than 20 people, from a variety of nationalities and backgrounds, live on the wasteland based behind a supermarket in the north of the capital.

The plot, which is mostly overgrown, holds a number of caravans as well as tents, with one resident even generating energy through solar panels.

Members of the community have raised concerns that many of them cannot afford to find a permanent residence, and that they’ve been given very little support to find another living situation.

They argue they’ll only end up moving to another piece of land if forced the leave the plot they currently occupy.

One man, who has asked to be kept anonymous, told STV News: “Most of us, we cannot afford to live anywhere else, because of the housing crisis.

“if we find a rent, even though it’s really complicated, you have to pass interviews, we’d need to pay 100% of our wage just to survive.”

He goes on to explain that he’s secured a mortgage in principle but without a change in the cost of homes and interest rates, buying remains unrealistic.

Even though this living situation is a necessity rather than a choice for many of those staying in caravans on the site, the resident explains he’s grown to appreciate the way of life.

“I don’t really know if I really want to live in a flat after living in a place like this.

“For me now, living in a normal house with everything concrete around, for me it’s too cold.”

The group claim false promises have been made by the City of Edinburgh Council in the past when they’ve been removed from other sites.

They say assistance in finding permanent housing, access to essential amenities and other help were assured but never followed up on.

There is also concern at the time given to the community to respond to this latest eviction notice.

Fredericka, a Granton local who has become friends with those living on the site, says she has tried to help them with writing a letter to respond to the eviction, but has had little success.

She said: “I went to the court of session, and I was told it was one day too late. They didn’t give enough time to answer or to get a lawyer, only five days.

“They’ve always been friendly with everybody, I’ve never noticed any anti-social behaviour.”

The Council say the notice has been served by the Scottish Government, and that they are working with the Police to help provide those on the site with more time.

Councillor Jane Meagher, Housing, Homelessness and Fair Work Convener, said: “Everyone is entitled to safe and warm housing and we always strive to provide the best support that we can.

“The travelling community is no different and members have unique needs which we work hard to meet in Edinburgh. In fact, we have received national praise for North Cairntow as really positive example of how councils can and should co-design traveller sites.

“Tenants can rent a chalet and access utility blocks there in the knowledge they are safe, supported and have rights.

“We are committed to ensuring equality of opportunity, and this is a particularly marginalised group.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government has started the process of transferring ownership of this land. Discussions with the parties involved are ongoing as we try to find a suitable solution.”

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