THERE are plans to spend £2 million on Fife Council's three permanent gypsy traveller sites, including Thorntonwood near Kelty. 

The aim is to "provide equity for all residents" and follows a survey where the tenants slated the accommodation on offer. 

A face-to-face survey of gypsy travellers who stay at the sites was taken in March and showed "a significant level of dissatisfaction" with their landlord, Fife Council. 

Just over 29 per cent said they were satisfied, against an average of more than 78 per cent across Scotland, and improvements costing £2 million have now been identified.

A report by John Mills, the council's head of housing, said figures suggest poor health in the gypsy traveller population was "nearly four times higher than that of the housed population". 

He continued: "Travellers also report a higher incidence of long-term health conditions than other residents. 

"Some of this can be attributed to the relatively poor housing conditions and lack of access to decent, warm, affordable housing at the sites."

Mr Mills said improving conditions at the sites would tackle "health inequalities" and warned that failing to act "would attract an adverse reaction" from Scottish ministers. 

He added: "There is also a reputational risk to the council if improvements identified and agreed are not delivered, satisfaction levels will not improve for the residents of the gypsy traveller sites."

The council manages three sites in Fife – there are 20 pitches in Cupar, 18 at Thornton and 12 at Thorntonwood, on the outskirts of Kelty. 

Each pitch contains hardstanding for parking a caravan and another vehicle, and an amenity block with toilet/shower/bath, kitchen area, hot and cold water and storage. There is a mixture of self-contained caravans and chalet-style accommodation. 

Travellers staying there have a 48-week tenancy agreement with the council and pay rent of £61 a week – comparable with the average rent for a two-bed council property. 

They are also required to pay council tax. 

The survey showed the reasons for the "high levels of dissatisfaction" were the condition of the pitches, lack of accommodation and absence of site improvements. 

Mr Mills said the council currently met the "minimum site standards" set out by the Scottish Government but had discussed upgrades with the travellers and identified £800,000 for "initial improvements". 

He told councillors at the community and housing services committee on Tuesday that transferring the three sites from the General Fund Housing Account to the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) would help "bring the sites up to an improved standard". 

The improvement works would then be delivered through the HRA capital programme and funded from rents charged for the accommodation on each site. 

Mr Mills said: "In line with the council's strategic priorities for fairness, there is a need to provide equity for all residents in Fife. 

"As a landlord, we are required to meet statutory obligations, improve local housing circumstances and strengthen links with local communities."