Communication channels with the Gypsy/Travelling community are to be given a refresh in a new pilot scheme.

East Ayrshire Council are one of four Scottish councils to be trialling the ‘negotiated stopping’ model for working with Gypsy/Travellers.

The pilot will facilitate communication between local authorities and communities and see changes to the way Gypsy/Travellers are supported to access land and facilities such as toilets, water and waste removal as well as essential services including health and education.

The approach was introduced to Scotland by Gypsy/Traveller activists, including the campaigner Davie Donaldson, to improve understanding of Gypsy/Traveller culture and achieve better treatment and access to rights.

As part of the pilot, councils from across Scotland will also be encouraged to work with COSLA to strengthen local policies as part of their broader commitment to the national action plan, ‘Improving the Lives of Gypsy/Travellers 2019-21.’

Councillor Elena Whitham, COSLA Housing Spokesperson said: “Our Gypsy/Traveller communities have a long and rich history of travelling within Scotland and are a valued part of our local places, shared history and diversity.

“The pilot will help us to work better with families through the public health crisis and find out how we can build stronger relationships across our communities, design improved services and make best use of public money.”

Christina McKelvie MSP, Minister for Older People and Equalities said: “This pilot will help local authorities and Gypsy/Traveller communities to work together to allow access to temporary land, essential facilities and services such as health, education and helping Gypsy/Travellers access their right to travel. This is important progress in our work with Local Government to deliver on our Action Plan to improve the lives of Gypsy/Travellers across Scotland.

“Throughout this pandemic, the needs of vulnerable groups including children and older people have been our priority so I am pleased to see this being launched today.”

This new approach comes after tensions rose between the settled and Gypsy/Traveller community last week. We reported that Auchinleck locals were peeved by travellers parked at the Barony A Frame, preventing them from parking and using the area.