A bid to permanently remove an illegal Travellers’ encampment in Perth has failed, prompting calls for new powers for councils to tackle the issue.
After lengthy negotiations had failed, the threat of legal action saw Travellers recently moving off after six months occupying the Arran Road entrance to the council’s prestigious food and drink park development.
Massive concrete barriers were erected across the roads earlier this month to ensure the security of the site but these have been moved and the site reoccupied.
At the weekend seven caravans, two vans and a number of cars were parked along the edge of the development’s entrance.
The reoccupation came as the council had just revealed the costs of dealing with the last incident.
“The costs of clearing up the Perth Food and Drink Park and the recent legal enforcement action (which was unopposed) amounted to a total of £3,295.32,” said a council spokesperson.
Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser, who has asked for the Scottish Government to look at assisting council’s with such costs, is infuriated by the latest development.
“It is unacceptable that Travellers have returned to the Arran Road site and have illegally removed the concrete barriers installed to prevent this from happening,” he said.
“The council have few options open to them and it is high time the Scottish Government took this issue on and gave local authorities the teeth to properly tackle this issue.
“The financial burden for councils left dealing with the aftermath of a Traveller encampment is particularly significant at a time of budget restraint following Scottish Government cuts to local authorities.
“Not all Travellers leave a mess but those who do, not only tarnish the reputation of the travelling community, but leave local authorities picking up an often substantial tab.
“The Scottish Government need to look at how laws surrounding traveller encampments are enforced. If they are not prepared to do this then they should consider offering financial assistance to councils, like Perth and Kinross, who are affected. It is simply not fair for local council taxpayers to have to pick up the tab.”
Local councillor Chris Ahern said he was “angry and upset” that the security had been breached and was concerned about the wider consequences.
“It is going to have an impact on people who want to move businesses into the food and drink park,” he said.