DUMFRIES and Galloway Councillors will receive a report at Communities Committee next week (31 January) on the two Council operated facilities at Glenluce and Collin.
The Gypsy/Traveller sites at Glenluce and Collin have been open for many years and have different levels of occupancy and demand. The site at Collin has high demand because of its accessibility to Dumfries and currently provides 15 pitches. Furthermore, more than 20 children that reside on the site attend the local primary school.
The Scottish Government published ‘Improving Gypsy/Traveller sites – Guidance on minimum site standards and site tenants core rights and responsibilities’ in May 2015.
The Council has been and continues to work on improvements to the two Gypsy/Traveller sites and meets with the residents on a regular basis to discuss issues. However, it is clear that in order to meet the standards set by the Scottish Government, substantial investment for improvement works would be required.
The Council is engaged with the Scottish Housing Regulator setting out ongoing remedial work being undertaken to deliver site and service improvements. At the meeting next week, Members are being asked to agree to receive a detailed report outlining all of the options for the Collin site at a future meeting of the Communities Committee. Initial estimates indicate that improvement works to meet the standards would cost in the region of £7,851,000.
Members will also be asked to approve improvement plans for Glenluce. These include reducing the number of pitches from 14 to 7 by converting the current semi-detached blocks into larger, more modern detached units. The estimated cost of the works is £338,000. Councillors will be asked to recommend that the sites are included as priorities in the Council’s Capital Investment Strategy 2019/20.
In advance of the Committee meeting, Chair of the Communities Committee, Andy Ferguson, visited the site at Collin to see first hand the conditions at the site and to speak to the residents there to better understand their issues.
“It is a priority of this council to protect our most vulnerable people. This is a stark report that really highlights the scale of the task to address the issues with the site at Collin. What is clear though is that doing nothing is not an option. We need to take action and meet the current regulatory standards. We must seek the views of the residents at Collin so their feedback can be fully considered. As a Council, we are committed to exploring all of the options and will do so as part of the Council’s decision-making process on an appropriate solution.”
Vice Chair, John Martin, said;
“It is widely recognised that the level of resource currently distributed through the Scottish Government’s annual settlement with the Council, in the region of £60,000 for our council, is insufficient to maintain the sites on an ongoing basis at the new regulatory standards. When we were contacted by the Regulator last year, we were aware of the scale of the task, the gap between the standards required and the challenges that need to be addressed. It is now our responsibility to navigate through these and address the issues identified.”