Council bosses are moving to evict Travellers from Scotland’s first food and drink business park.
Caravans have pitched up at the much-heralded, multi-million-pound estate on the outskirts of Perth.
They rolled on to the site as Perth and Kinross Council confirmed it had abandoned long-standing plans to establish a dedicated halting site for Travellers.
The move has been criticised by one councillor, who said the local authority was letting down the community.
Council officers have spent five years searching for a suitable site for caravan convoys. The aim was to offer Travellers a dedicated stop-off point with access to facilities, while cutting down on illegal camps popping up around the region.
The proposal was part of a strategy drawn up with the help of NHS Tayside and Police Scotland to “meet the future needs” of the travelling community.
The local authority confirmed on Wednesday that it had dropped plans to establish a new site, and will instead put the earmarked £46,000 into improving existing camps used by Gypsies and Travellers.
It emerged that the proposal had been quietly killed off during private talks earlier this year.
A report to councillors stated: “The scope of work proposed under the Gypsy Travellers Transit Sites project is being reviewed, and a new business case is being prepared.
“To reflect this, it is proposed to change the name of the project to Gypsy Travellers Site Improvement Works.”
Councillor Pete Barrett criticised the council for changing its strategy.
“Despite my opposition the council decided, in a private meeting, not to progress with any of a significant number of temporary site options for Gypsy Travellers,” he said.
“This was in spite of the large numbers of the Gypsy Traveller community travelling through the area.
“With no approved transit sites, to which Gypsy Travellers can be directed for short stays, informal sites can spring up anywhere and council and police powers to deal with them are limited.”
He said: “The council have effectively abandoned Gypsy Travellers in transit and they are forced to endure temporary encampments sometimes a mile 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.”
The council operates two authorised sites – a total of 26 units – at Double Dykes, on the western edge of Perth, and Bobbin Mill in private woods near Pitlochry.
Now the local authority is preparing to take action to force Travellers out of its food and drink park.
A council spokeswoman said: “We will serve notice on the encampment (at the food and drink park) by the end of the week, which will require the site to be vacated within 24 hours.
“Once the site has been cleared we will install concrete bollards on the internal road to prevent further encampments.”
The business park, which aims to attract the biggest names in Scotland’s food and drink sector, is due to open later this summer.