Council seeks stronger powers to deal with travellers

Published: 18 Mar 2011 08:109 comments

FIFE Council has launched a bid which could give the police and local authority more powers to remove illegal traveller encampments from private land.

The council's Gypsy Travellers Working Group (GTWG) has submitted a paper to the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland, calling for a change to the law in Scotland to manage unauthorised encampments.

A report to the council's housing and communities committee on Tuesday recognised that "current legal provisions largely restrict local authorities and police forces" when it came to balancing the rights of travellers and those of local communities.

The council itself has spent between £10,000-£11,000 in legal fees in seeking interdicts and eviction orders for illegal traveller encampments on council land.

The working group's paper highlighted "problematic events" in dealing with large encampments last summer, saying in many cases there was "non-co-operation" with the council and "severe disruption caused to local businesses".

One such group pitched up in Donibristle Industrial Estate in Dalgety Bay, leading to residents complaining about vandalism, harassment, trash and human waste.

The report also underlined that the council's hands were tied when it came to removing travellers off private land and it is hoped that a change in law will stop a repeat of such problems.

Currently, Scotland has greater legal restrictions regarding the removal of illegal encampments from private land than England and Wales, where local authorities can seek court action under specific grounds which do not apply in Scotland.

John Mills, senior manager of housing management and homelessness, said, "The GTGW has endorsed the need to call for the Scottish Government to agree to a review of the current legal framework and to potentially bring the Scottish provisions into line with the rest of the United Kingdom."

Fife is also reviewing its co-operation policy for managing such encampments, to deal more effectively with the matter through joint efforts with the police.

Mr Mills added, "The main focus for criticism of the policy is its lack of effectiveness in dealing with large encampments (more than 20 caravans) which sporadically come into Fife for economic, religious and family reasons.

"The hugely negative impact of a particular group ... during 2010 has highlighted the need to review the policy and recommend to all agencies how to more effectively deal with large encampments."

In addition, the council has identified four potential stopover sites for travellers, to complement three existing permanent sites, including one at Kelty.

A decision is expected to be made around the summer regarding sites, which include one each at Cairneyhill and Crossgates, and will be supplied with water, black bags, portable toilets and waste removal.

Mr Mills said there was a need for change, adding, "The relatively poor experience of Fife Council in seeking to manage large encampments on public and private land is mirrored by other local authorities in Scotland.

"The high level of negative publicity and council and police activity during 2010 is not sustainable."

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  • bigdave12
    Unregistered User
    Mar 18, 09:27
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    "A decision is expected to be made around the summer regarding sites, which include one each at Cairneyhill and Crossgates, and will be supplied with water, black bags, portable toilets and waste removal..."







    Who is happy for their council tax to fund these new sites? I'm certainly not. Local residents also don't seem to be getting consulted either about these

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  • Martix
    13 posts
    Mar 18, 11:22
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    If the land isn't currently in use, does it really matter if the gyp's stay there? As for cleaning the mess up afterwards... I'd do it. You'd have to pay me naturally... but it beats sitting around waiting for a job to turn up!







    It's not like our council tax is used for very much else anyway. Not that I've had to pay much this year... not exactly a bonus when you're skint!







    People like to blame the "travellers" for thefts and damage... but most of that comes from residents anyway! Who you gonna blame when there's no gypo's to blame? The doleys? Better to give them somewhere to go, rather than complain about where you don't want them to be! Or better yet.. stop charging your communities illigal taxes!

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  • Martix
    13 posts
    Mar 18, 11:28
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    And... Think of all the fuel these folks are buying?! They must pay enough in tax to subsidise most of fifes roads themselves hauling all those caravans around! Give them a break I say, and give me a job! I'll clean up after the "travellers" have left... then I'd be able to pay MY council tax... it's a WIN WIN Scenario!

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  • Bobb
    Unregistered User
    Mar 18, 16:08
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    Martix, I hope that you are simply being facetious here. Nobody should be paid to clean up after illegal parked travellers. If they are as law abiding as they like to claim, they will clear up their own rubbish. And if not, they should be prohibitted from leaving until they do.

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  • Not Happy Jan
    Unregistered User
    Mar 19, 11:39
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    These people really should be banned, If they can't be banned can't you make room in some of the more working class areas where they would fit in. I am sure there are many areas in Rosyth and Inverkeithing where they would probably be better off than some of the current residents.

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  • Limekilns-resident
    Unregistered User
    Mar 20, 16:54
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    They should be allowed to park their caravans in Not Happy Jan's front garden beside the stolen apple trees etc.

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  • winky pinkerton
    Unregistered User
    Mar 20, 22:52
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    we need david cameron to put in a no fly zone to protect the people from the dictators

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  • Lollipop
    Unregistered User
    Mar 21, 15:51
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    not happy jan just wants them away from her house! they are human beings too. they get blamed for everthing no matter where they go. As for sticking them in rosyth or inverkeithing, they obviously dont want to be settled in one places, theres a reasion their called TRAVELLERS.

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  • linzi1985
    Unregistered User
    May 28, 18:49
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    iwhere i live weve had travellers on the end of our street on some empty land, they've been there for three weeks now, since they've been there most of the neighbours kids bikes have gone toys out the garden and even my next door neighbour's dog was took from the garden, the travellers kids was running up an down the street throwing bricks and frighting each other in the street at night the kids wouldnt go bed till gone three in the morning there were adults fighting each other glass all over the street aswell as rubish there, some of the lads made a fire last night and they were all sat round it like its normal! i cant believe how they act and while our children are going to school there kids as young as 7 are on that site smoking drinking frighting and nicking its bad how our neighbourhood can be trashed by travellers like that, wowi never seen humans act like this befor its like living on shameless now but even worse

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