Councils offered advice on dealing with gypsies

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COUNCILS should not be given statutory obligations to provide sites for gypsy travellers, according to the housing and welfare minister.

Instead, they should be encouraged, through the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla), to help travellers, Margaret Burgess told MSPs on the equal opportunities committee.

She appeared before the committee as part of its inquiry into teh living conditions of gypsy travellers.

MSPs have already heard from members of the travelling community across Scotland who explained the difficulties they face, ­particularly with formal sites and access to services.

Other problems include relationships with councils and help with the planning process.

Asked if government should legislate to force councils to provide sites, Ms Burgess said: “I don’t see that as resolving it because, at the end of the day, it’s still them that need to determine where that site’s going to be. I think we’ll be back to where we are just now.”

There is more work for the government to do, she added, because “it’s clearly not working at the moment”.