Shared provision of sites for Travellers is a model to follow | Letter

Phil Murray on the police bill’s potential effects on Travellers, and the network of serviced authorised sites that Strathclyde regional council established in the 1980s and 90s

Your editorial (8 February) criticising the draft police bill for further marginalising the already isolated Traveller community is both timeous and accurate. Rather than continued reliance within the bill on the sledgehammer approach of moving the problem of unauthorised encampments from one area to another – a proven costly failure – both central and local governments should look to replicate small successes from the past.

In the 1980s and 90s, Strathclyde regional council, in partnership with central government, the 19 constituent district councils and representatives of the Traveller community, developed a network of serviced authorised sites for Traveller use across the region, the costs of which were shared by all councils, whether or not they actually hosted a site.

While such an innovative policy required sustained political commitment, and on occasion created controversy and friction, it was broadly successful in ensuring the availability of secure accommodation for a persecuted minority, while at the same time enhancing knowledge and understanding between the Traveller and settled communities.
Phil Murray
Linlithgow, West Lothian

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