‘Sensitive zones’ for travelling people

Travellers camp at Beveridge Park
Travellers camp at Beveridge Park

Fife’s Conservative group has welcomed a decision to designate certain areas in Fife, such as business parks, “sensitive” zones for travellers.

The move follows numerous occasions of travellers setting up camp on industrial estates and, more recently, in public parks in Kirkcaldy.

Councillor Dave Dempsey, group leader, said: “It’s been accepted for years that unauthorised encampments aren’t ideal. They cause ill feeling locally, put landowners to the expense of court orders and often result in significant clean-up costs. Up till now, the Council’s response has been to look for additional authorised sites but progress has been slow to non-existent.”

Unauthorised encampments are illegal under the 1865 Trespass Act. The police can act when criminal damage is involved but they tend not to because it can be difficult identify those responsible.

In April last year the Conservative group proposed that Fife Council look into designating particular areas as “sensitive” so that the full force of the law could be used as quickly as possible.

Mr Dempsey added: “We had in mind business premises where encampments could result in loss of orders or even loss of jobs.

“The Council’s response was to set up a working group which did useful work but again concentrated on creating more authorised sites.

“When it reported back, we welcomed its work but again proposed that steps be taken to protect sensitive areas – this time with more success.”

Fife Council will now lobby the Scottish Government and CoSLA for a change in the law.

“It’s not the solution but it’s a step in the right direction,” he said.