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Travellers should stick to their sites, says Tolson as new arrivals set up camp

Published: 8 Apr 2011 09:1563 comments

THE arrival of travellers in a Dunfermline car park has been described "totally unacceptable" by election candidate Jim Tolson.

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A resident in Appin Crescent complained to Lib Dem Mr Tolson saying the travellers had arrived on Saturday.

"The taxpayers in West Fife have paid a lot of money to build good quality sites for travelling people and so I would encourage them to use them," said Mr Tolson.

"From speaking to the council and the police it would appear that these travellers have been there before and plan to stay for a couple of weeks.

"We have seen in other places where travellers have stopped that there can be a problem with mess and intimidating local people.

"It's totally unacceptable that people have to put up with caravans looking over into their gardens in this way.

"When so much taxpayers' money is being spent on sites for travellers such the one up by Kelty then we shouldn't have these illegal encampments appearing."

Councillor Alice McGarry, chairwoman of the Fife gypsy travellers working group, said, "If they are parking in a public car park I would expect the council will take action.

"In the first instance they would try to persuade people to move but, if they have to, they will go for an interdict. The council are quick off the mark in these cases and they're not a soft touch.

"However, we're not in a strong position because of the lack of temporary places for travellers passing through Fife.

"If we go to court and a sheriff can ask what provision we can offer and whether there are any problems being caused.

"If there is anti-social behaviour taking place then the police will handle it."

The council is currently looking at building stop-over sites for travellers near Cairneyhill and at Crossgates.

"There has been no local consultation so far and we need to convince local people that these sites wouldn't result in problems. If that was the case they would be closed down," said Mrs McGarry.

"We're in a stronger position if we have these temporary sites but the problem is people usually don't want them within miles of their homes."

There were problems caused in Fife last summer with larger groups of travellers descending on different areas including Duloch Park, Dalgety Bay and Inverkeithing.

"That was out of the ordinary for Fife. They were large groups and they were causing concern to people and making them feel uncomfortable," said Mrs McGarry.

"We need a change in law to make it the same as England where the local authority can take court action whereas in Scotland it's the land-owner."

For Fife police, Community Inspector Ian Paterson said, "Officers have made contact with the travellers who are currently at Leys Park Road, which is a first step in instigating our protocol which will now involve the Fife Council Travelling Persons Liaison Officer. The situation will be monitored until a resolution is achieved."

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