A pair of leading Perth and Kinross councillors have clashed over the local authority’s policy on providing suitable sites for Travellers.
Peter Barrett and Mac Roberts are at loggerheads following a recent council meeting at which council chiefs revealed they had dropped plans to build a new site, instead deciding to pump £46,000 into existing camps used by members of the travelling community.
The matter arose due to Travellers pitching up at part of the proposed site of Perth’s food and drink business park earlier this week in the Inveralmond area, on the outskirts of the city.
Perth and Kinross Council had initially proposed to build a dedicated stop-off point for travellers, providing access to facilities. This project was part of a strategy devised in conjunction with Police Scotland and NHS Tayside to meet the demands of travellers.
However, at a council meeting earlier this week, it was announced that the local authority had abandoned the plan to build a new site. It currently has two sites for travellers – one at Double Dykes in north Perth and the other at Bobbin Mill in Pitlochry.
Mr Barrett strongly criticised this change of tack by the council, suggesting the local authority are forcing travellers to “endure” temporary encampments away from fresh water, power and proper toilet facilities.
“The council’s approach sadly fails to treat the Gypsy/ Traveller community with proper respect and the issue has been swept under the carpet,” he had said at the council meeting.
“The council have effectively abandoned the Gypsy/ Travellers in transit.”
Mr Roberts said: “The problem that the council faces is finding a suitable location for a traveller’s site. It would appear that no settled community wishes to have one on their own patch.
“It would be more helpful if Councillor Barrett could perhaps identify a suitable site in his own ward instead of criticising the action of the council.”
On Friday, Mr Barrett hit back again, describing Mr Roberts comments as “mischievous nonsense.”
“Mr Roberts should look at the local Conservative view on this which is that they don’t want a site anywhere,” he said.