Crail travellers’ site proposal to proceed

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FIFE Council has given the green light for land in Crail to be used as a stopover site for gypsy travellers.

Use of the site has also been supported by local councillors and Crail Community Council provided certain conditions are met.

Community councillors asked that the current waste handling site at Kilminning be used instead of the picnic area.

They also called for a goalpost barrier system to be installed to prevent caravans accessing other areas outwith the agreed site.

Finally, they sought regular updates on the management of the site and any issues that may arise during its use.

Approval for the travellers’ stopover was granted on Tuesday by the council’s housing and communities committee who will now apply for temporary planning permission.

It was agreed that a formal review of the site would take place after the first season of use.

Speaking after the meeting, councillor Donald MacGregor - the local member - said: “It was quite clear that their was some opposition in the local area, particularly from the Pinkerton area, to this stopover site in Crail.

“But people have been coming here for a long time and we felt we had to try this for an experimental period to see if we can get it to work.

“It is important that we have a local liason group to make sure that problems are addressed. People raised concerns about misbehaviour and this can happen among any group and, where it does, it must be dealt with appropriately.”

Crail was one of three sites, along with Cardenden and Cairneyhill, approved at the meeting. Total cost has been estimated to be £15,000 but, with no budget for the work currently in place, funding will come from the council’s General Fund in 2012/13.

The council feared they would not be able to obtain eviction orders for unauthorised encampments had they decided to provide stopover sites where the maximum stay is limited to four weeks.

In 2003, the council agreed a “Co Operation Policy” that sets out the rights and responsibilities of gypsy travellers when parked in unauthorised encampments.

The policy also commits the council to provide between six and eight stopover sites across Fife during the travelling season from March to October.

The land to be used at Crail is not currently owned by the council who will need to reach an agreement with the landowner as no compulsory purchase powers are available.

A Local Liaison Group, involving councillors, community council representatives, police, and the gypsy traveller site manager, will now be set up.