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Whin Park travellers with dogs and goat whip up demand for more Inverness pitches

The impromtu camp has sparked debate about amenities for Travellers.

A makeshift campsite next to a city play park has sparked calls for extra  Traveller pitches in the area.

Residents complain the encampment in a car park has made it difficult for people to use the car park, while businesses have claimed it is putting off customers.

A comment is unavailable from the Traveller families.

However, police have visited the Whin Park site, which one local claimed even has a goat at it.

The travellers at Whin Park
Highland Council said it was liaising with the community and with the travellers as tensions rise at Whin Park in Inverness.

And now MSPs are now urging Highland Council to press ahead with plans to allocate national funding towards improving the accommodation for Traveller communities in Highland.

Rhoda Grant MSP believes improvement would go a long way and the council must step in.

Regional Labour MSP Rhoda Grant says: “It is important that facilities are made available for Travellers, but they must also be involved in the discussions as to what is provided and where.  Often these sites are moved and are not close enough to local amenities for Travellers to be able to use.

“The last thing we want is conflict which is difficult for settled communities and Travellers alike.  The council must step in and find a reasonable solution.”

Highlands and Islands Green Party MSP Ariane Burgess

Ariane Burgess, Highlands and Islands Green Party MSP, said: “Scotland’s Traveller community is among the most marginalised in the country, and the Scottish Greens believe they are entitled to improved and new permanent stopping places allocated in consultation with the community and local authorities.

“Current arrangements mean even many council-owned sites fail to meet minimum standards and that is totally unacceptable. We need a common rights framework installed that respects this lifestyle and heritage.”

The Scottish Government launched a £20 million fund in March “to provide more and better accommodation for Traveller communities”.

The five-year allowance will build on the £2 million it allocated to site improvement last year.

A spokesman said improving the lives of Travellers was a priority in it joint- action plan with COSLA – Improving the Lives of Scotland’s Gypsy/Travellers 2019-21.

He said: “This will help improve the lives of Scotland’s Traveller community through 33 actions across education, health, racism and discrimination, employment and social care. We have recently extended this by 18 months, until October 2022, as a result of the pandemic – as well as adding in additional support systems due to COVID19.”

A Highland spokesperson said its staff were liaising, within government guidance on social distancing, with the people involved in the Whin Park site.

A spokeswoman said: “We provide 49 pitches over our four Traveller sites in Highland.  There is space at our site in Longman Park, Inverness, and on our other sites. We advise any visiting Traveller roadside camps on these facilities.

“We hope to take advantage of national funding to further improve the accommodation for our Traveller communities in Highland.”

 

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