Ministerial leadership and a national public awareness campaign to deter discrimination against Gypsy/Travellers have been demanded by the Equal Opportunities Committee in its report published today.
The Where Gypsy/Travellers Live inquiry highlights the sheer frustration felt by both the community and the Committee that the same issues and recommendations raised by the Committee’s predecessor in 2001 remain unresolved.
Convener of the Equal Opportunities Committee Mary Fee MSP said:
“Having seen for ourselves the appalling conditions Gypsy/Travellers are expected to live in, despite paying their rent and council tax, it is patently clear to us the time has come for the Scottish Government, COSLA and local authorities to take matters in hand.
“A national strategy to support local authorities on housing strategies for Gypsy/Travellers and a national awareness campaign to ensure there is a zero-tolerance on discrimination against Gypsy/Travellers must be initiated and led by the Scottish Government.
“Twelve years after the first report on Gypsy/Travellers was published we want to ensure action is taken this time around by the Scottish Government, COSLA and local authorities.”
The Equal Opportunities Committee believes that addressing discrimination at a national and community level is the only way to break down the persistent barriers to site development and help Gypsy/Travellers get the full access to healthcare, education and employment that they desperately require.
The Committee will review responses from the Scottish Government and COSLA to both this report and the Gypsy/Travellers and Care report before July 2013.
In 2012 the Equal Opportunities Committee decided to follow-up on the work of previous committees on improving the lives of Gypsy/Travelling people in Scotland. The first inquiry Gypsy/Travellers and Care was published in September 2012 and revealed that the community had disproportionately poor health outcomes. The current inquiry Where Gypsy/Travellers Live was launched in March 2012 and the Committee visited sites in Edinburgh, Dalkeith, Perth, Pitlochry, Oban and Lochgilphead to see the dire conditions for themselves. The Committee also held an external meeting at Clinterty Travelling Persons’ Site, near Aberdeen in February 2013.