Shortlist of ‘seasonal sites’ in Kirkcaldy for travellers

Travellers in Kirkcaldy crematorium car park
Travellers in Kirkcaldy crematorium car park

Fife Council has drawn up a shortlist of locations in the Kirkcaldy area where ‘seasonal sites’ for gypsy travellers could be set up.

And top of the list are understood to be sites on the edge of business parks and industrial estates.

The Council set up a task group to find suitable locations for pilot seasonal sites to provide an alternative to unauthorised encampments.

But the decision to look for sites in industrial areas is unlikely to go down well with business leaders.

They expressed concerns in the wake of large encampments which caused significant disruption in and around the town earlier this year.

Matters came to a head during the summer when a group of gypsy travellers, with 20-30 caravans and associated vehicles, set up encampments without permission in sensitive areas, including Beveridge Park, Ravenscraig Park, Randolph Playing Fields and Kirkcaldy crematorium car park.

John Mills, senior manager (housing and social inclusion), said the idea of seasonal sites was to prevent future unauthorised encampments.

He added these sites would be “more intensively managed” to address problems of anti-social behaviour.

Mr Mills explained most gypsy traveller encampments in Fife tended to be in or near business parks, and the task group’s view was that this should be recognised as the prime criteria for potential site locations.

“There is absolutely no point in locating sites in places where gypsy travellers are not prepared to go,” he said.

The shortlist of sites is being further examined and consultations are on-going with local councillors. Meetings with the police, Fife Chamber of Commerce and local businesses are being arranged to discuss the provision and management of the sites.

One or two pilot sites in Kirkcaldy are expected to be put forward to the Council’s executive committee in December.

Councillor Judy Hamilton, executive member for housing, said: “It’s important to recognise the majority of gypsy travellers sites are well managed. This is about addressing the problems caused by a minority.

“We have to respect the rights of the gypsy travellers, but no one has the right to cause disruption and damage in our communities.

“There will be a lot of consultation as this is a very sensitive matter, but hopefully we have found a way of taking this forward.”

Evictions

During the 2014 travelling season, there were 45 evictions from unauthorised encampments, 21 from one group of travellers.

Costs

The cost to the Council in legal action, management and clean-up costs was £30,500.