Scottish Councils pledge ‘local leadership’ on Gypsy/Travellers’ rights
Scotland’s Council Leaders have pledged action to improve the lives of Scotland’s Gypsy/Travellers and tackle discrimination towards the community.
Meeting at the Convention Of Scottish Council Leaders (COSLA) HQ in Edinburgh, Scotland’s leading local politicians met with Gypsy/Traveller activists to hear about the difficulties they face in seeking to live a traditional lifestyle.
All 32 Council Leaders unanimously approved work to develop a national action plan with the Scottish Government to drive progress and pledged to work with other public bodies to ensure that Gypsy/Travellers are receiving equal access to essential services.
Davie Donaldson, Scottish Traveller Activist and Campaigner, welcomed the announcement.
“This is an amazing pledge for real action from councils!”, Said Davie Donaldson.
“The substantial effort from Traveller activists and campaigners to raise awareness of the issues we face has been worth it,” he added.
“Councils are recognising the issues Travellers face on a daily basis trying to gain safe accommodation and access to services that the settled community take for granted. I am very excited to see real change being promised for Gypsies and Travellers in Scotland.”
Commenting on their pledge, Cllr Alison Evison, COSLA President, said that local government had a “vital” role to play.
“Scottish Local Government has a vital role to play in protecting and promoting the rights of Gypsy/Travellers, who should be respected members of our diverse communities with a culture that is valued,” said Cllr Evison.
“It was deeply moving to hear the direct experience of a Traveller as she described having to hide her identity - and even change her name - in order to avoid discrimination and get a job in her local area,” she added.
“Such experiences cannot continue, and I am proud that COSLA unanimously voted to take urgent action for the community.”
Cllr Elena Whitham, COSLA Housing Spokesperson, said that everyone had a right to a secure place to stay – something which is often denied to Gypsies and Travellers.
“Everyone living in our communities has the right to a safe and secure place to stay, but we know this isn’t always the case for our Gypsy/Traveller communities, said Cllr Witham.
“Gypsy/Traveller communities have rightly called for more and better provision of permanent sites across Scotland. This will take hard work and a strong partnership with the Scottish Government to deliver, but it is something that all of our 32 councils are committed to achieving.”
COSLA’s community wellbeing Board is already taking forward work including to pilot positive approaches to managing roadside encampments; to develop a ‘local leaders’ network. The Community Wellbeing Board are prioritising four key areas for proactive policy development and partnership work in 2018/19. These are to:
- Help increase and improve the quality of provision of permanent Gypsy/Traveller sites;
- Support the fulfilment of Gypsy/Travellers rights to a nomadic lifestyle;
- Support Gypsy/Travellers voice and treatment within the planning system; and
- Address discrimination through local leadership.
By TT news/press release
(Main picture: Scottish Travellers in Banff (c) Ron Beaty)