PROGRESS will be made to redevelop a travelling persons' site in the Wee County, with additional funding, after demolition works began this Monday.

Clackmannanshire Council last week agreed an additional £1.3million to redevelop the Westhaugh Travelling Persons Site, near Alva.

It comes after council officers confirmed there has been a 25 per cent increase in costs associated with the project, bringing the total to £5.5m.

Much of that funding, up to 60 per cent, will come from the Scottish Government, the council having been successful at obtaining the highest level of grant award from the Gypsy/Traveller Accommodation Fund.

The move was agreed at last Thursday's, May 18, council meeting.

Speaking to the Advertiser, Cllr Jane McTaggart explained the site, originally developed in the 1980s, had fallen into disrepair and it was time to “rectify” that.

The spokesperson for housing and property highlighted the site did not and could not meet stringent fire regulations, leading to the need to redevelop it.

She also explained that prior to 2019, people residing at the site were not considered council tenants as Westhaugh fell under the local authority's property portfolio, not housing.

Cllr McTaggart said: “So, they had no protection and they didn't have the same level of rights tenants in Clackmannanshire had, although they were paying a pitch fee that was higher than the majority of full rents."

She added: “I feel that nobody in Clackmannanshire that is a tenant of the council would have accepted the conditions the travellers were accepting for all that time and we are now in a position that we can rectify that and give them decent properties to live in.”

She, along with Cllr Fiona Law, argued there is a moral obligation to provide the site.

While there is no statutory obligation, COSLA and the Scottish Government agreed an action plan to improve the lives of travelling persons in October 2019.

“There is a moral duty and there is an obligation towards the agreement to address the conditions of gypsy/traveller sites in Scotland,” Cllr McTaggart added.

The redevelopment was originally agreed at the end of 2020, however, by the time it was revisited after the pandemic, costs have spiralled.

The councillor explained the local authority managed to negotiate the additional costs down significantly from some £4m to the £1.3m approved.

During the meeting and speaking to the Advertiser, she also highlighted that no one questioned the level of investment for the Primrose Place dementia-friendly project, which also provides for a marginalised group.

She added: “I would hope that people in Clackmannanshire would understand the need to do this.”