A move to set up more ‘permanent seasonal’ sites to cope with the influx of travelers to the area has been mooted at a high level meeting.
Police, business leaders and politicians met to discuss orchestrating a more robust approach to dealing with the issues of illegal traveler sites being set up in the town.
The move comes in wake of a number of incidents in the town in recent weeks.
The high-level meeting, which was attended by Fife Council’s leader David Ross and chief executive Steve Grimmond, councillor Altany Craik, Lindsay Roy, Glenrothes and Central Fife MP, as well as police and officers from housing and economic development, was described as “full and frank” by Inspector Derek Paxton.
Representatives from businesses on Eastfield Industrial Estate including housebuilder Andrew Davie, whose Pico site at Bankhead was occupied by more than 30 caravans last month, Euan Fielder, Itek Ltd and Colin Nikolic from Shadow Blinds, also attended.
John Mills, economic development manager said small, temporary stop-over sites were not the answer because if the Council moved travelers to them, they established occupancy rights under Scottish law, hence a more permanent suggestion.
Business owners voiced their frustrations at the ongoing problem and called for better protection for landowners.
Fife Council cannot seek evictions (under Scottish law), as is legal in the rest of the UK, one of the reasons the authority has been calling for a change in the law.
Mr Roy said: “Ultimately it needs a change in the law to allow police officers to take effective action against illegal encampments.
“I have been urging the Scottish Government to act for several years now, but there appears to be a marked reluctance to grasp the nettle.”
Some key objectives were agreed at the meeting. Among them:
Fife Council to investigate whether the QC they use to secure interdicts against travellers occupying local authority property can be accessed (at no cost to the local authority and at a reduced cost to the landowner) by businesses.
Possible increased security measures for the Eastfield Industrial Estate to beconsidered.
Fife Council to seek legislative changes to prevent illegal encampments setting up within the town.