MSPs to hold meeting at traveller site for first time

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MSPs are to stage a formal meeting at a traveller site for the first time as they investigate hostility faced by travelling communities.

Holyrood’s equal opportunities committee believes that where Gypsy-Travellers live is often at the root of the problems that they face.

As part of its inquiry, the committee will hold its discussions at the Clinterty site near Aberdeen on Monday.

MSPs have already visited such sites in other parts of Scotland but this will be the first time they have held a formal meeting at one.

Committee convener Mary Fee said: “It is fitting that we hold our committee meeting at Clinterty Gypsy-Traveller’s site, as it gives us the opportunity to see where the community lives, in an area of Scotland that has already generated a lot of public interest on the subject.”

MSPs on the committee have heard from site managers, Gypsy-Traveller liaison offices, community councils, the police, the health service and local councils during their inquiry.

Some community council leaders have told MSPs that in some problem areas local residents are angry at the mess apparently left behind by Gypsy-Travellers.

In other places where established groups or well-managed sites exist, few problems, if any, were described.

Earlier this month Sheila Chambers, vice-chairman of Cockenzie and Port Seton Community Council, highlighted local concerns about the condition unauthorised sites are left in.

“In particular, it is the mess they leave behind that is worrying,” she said.

However, Gavin Buist, vice-president of the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents, added: “I don’t find the mainstream media portrayal of Gypsy-Travellers particularly helpful in fostering relationships between the broader community and that particular group in the community.”