Minister says Gypsy/Travellers most discriminated against

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Housing Minister Margaret Burgess told the Equal Opportunities Committee Gypsy/Travellers were "among the most disenfranchised and discriminated against in Scotland" on 21 February 2013.

Ms Burgess was giving evidence to the committee on its inquiry into where Gypsy/Travellers live.

The minister said it was up to locally elected representatives to choose sites for Gypsy/Travellers and to do it with the cooperation of Gypsy/Travellers themselves, meeting their requirements as well as the requirements of the local authority.

She said the Scottish government was clear that "the Gypsy/Traveller lifestyle should be maintained" and that they should not have to give up their lifestyle to access public services.

SNP MSP John Mason pressed the minister, saying there had seemed to be "no progress" on the issues facing the community, particularly on providing sites.

Ms Burgess disagreed and said the government always had to be mindful of the concordat between it and local authorities and added there had been progress made since 2001, although she conceded it was "not quick enough".

She said a cross departmental group would examine the report from the committee and consult with Cosla before she returned before the MSPs.

Committee Convener Mary Fee said there was an "understanding frustration among the Gypsy/Traveller community" who felt "very let down by the government".

The Labour MSP added it was clear the committee did not want to see just another set of recommendations and have to revisit the same issues in five years time.

She said the report on the inquiry would be published in the "later in the Spring".

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