The reality of life for Gypsy/Travellers is to be examined by the Scottish Parliament’s Equal Opportunities Committee as part of an inquiry into accommodation.
Focusing on where Gypsy/Travellers live, the committee will hear different experiences of finding and living on sites and about how these sites are run. The committee will also look at the impact living on a site can have in accessing services such as schools and health care.
Committee Convener Mary Fee MSP said:
“In 2001, our predecessor Equal Opportunities Committee held an inquiry looking into all aspects of Gypsy/Traveller life. Although the report contained many recommendations, we know there are still many issues.
“We’re aware that where Gypsy/Travellers live can often cause problems that other people may not have to face. Because there are such a range of experiences, we’re keen to hear not only from the people who provide services to Gypsy/Travellers, but also from Gypsy/Travellers themselves.
“By looking into, amongst other things, what it is like to find and live on a site, we hope that we can see what more needs to be done to ensure that there are no barriers to Gypsy/Travellers accessing the services to which we are all entitled.”
In an effort to reach as many people as possible, the committee Convener has also recorded a video call for evidence – a first for a Scottish Parliament committee. The video and a link to a leaflet explaining more about the inquiry will be made available on the Parliament’s website. The committee will also visit sites across Scotland later in the year to see first-hand the problems faced by the Gypsy/Traveller community.
In 2001, the Equal Opportunities Committee published a report which examined the relationship between Gypsy/Travellers and public sector policies. Accommodation was identified as a key issue for Gypsy/Travellers as other public services are dependent on it, e.g. having a certain address can lead to difficulties in accessing service provision, either physically or as a result of discrimination. A number of recommendations were made, including:
• new provision of local authority sites or site improvement should be made in consultation with Gypsy/Travellers
• a review of site managers and the appointment of a Gypsy Traveller Liaison Officer by each local authority
• good practice guidance for local authorities and the police regarding unauthorised camping.
The closing date for submissions is 13 July 2012.
Responses should be sent, wherever possible, electronically and in MS Word format to [email protected]
Hard copy responses may be sent to:
Equal Opportunities Committee
Edinburgh EH99 1SP
Full details of the Committee inquiry and call for evidence