Councils provide roadside facilities for traveller community

The pilot aims to provide access to toilets, water and waste removal to the gypsy/traveller communities.

Access to toilets, water and waste removal will be offered to travellers at informal or roadside camps as part of a trial scheme by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla).

The pilot aims to improve communication between local authorities and gypsy/traveller communities, with support to access temporary land and facilities, as well as health and education services.

Initially being trialled by East Ayrshire, Moray and Perth & Kinross councils, the scheme will also develop practical assistance for local authorities to provide safe facilities during the coronavirus pandemic.

Guidance published by the Scottish Government in June warned that Covid-19 could spread quickly through camps, which can be crowded and have shared sanitation.

The traveller community has a higher degree of underlying health conditions and poverty, increasing the risk from the virus.

“Hostile attitudes” from settled communities mean those living in encampments move from place to place, the document added, contrary to the advice given during the pandemic.

Cosla’s housing spokeswoman, Elena Whitham, said: “Our gypsy/traveller communities have a long and rich history of travelling within Scotland and are a valued part of our local places, shared history and diversity.

“The pilot will help us to work better with families through the public health crisis and find out how we can build stronger relationships across our communities, design improved services and make best use of public money.”

Christina McKelvie, the Scottish Government’s equalities minister, said: “This pilot will help local authorities and gypsy/traveller communities to work together to allow access to temporary land, essential facilities and services such as health, education and helping gypsy/travellers access their right to travel.

“This is important progress in our work with local government to deliver on our action plan to improve the lives of gypsy/travellers across Scotland.

“Throughout this pandemic, the needs of vulnerable groups including children and older people have been our priority so I am pleased to see this being launched today.”

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