Galashiels site put forward as 'longer term' option for travelling community – Border Telegraph

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Galashiels 1°c
LAND in Galashiels has been put forward as a “longer term” option for use by the travelling community.
Last week, Scottish Borders Council (SBC) members approved plans for a feasibility study into the site at Galafoot Lane.
But costs could be “prohibitive”, according to local authority papers.
A council report states: “The Galafoot site itself was previously used for industrial purposes (former gasworks) and at present is not suitable for residential occupation.
“A site report from 2013 indicates issues in relation to potentially high levels of contamination including possible tar contaminated groundwater.”
Rectifying the suspected contamination could cost up to £500,000, according to the report.
It adds: “The timescale for this action would mean that there would likely be a significant period of time before this site could be made suitable as a permanent site for Gypsy/Traveller families.
“Current estimates indicate potential years before this would be achievable.”
The central location of the Galashiels land is seen as a positive by the council.
New spots for the travelling community are being proposed by SBC after the current provision in the Borders was deemed ‘inadequate’.
The region’s current designated traveller site is at Innerleithen’s Tweedside Caravan Park, with a temporary provision at Victoria Park, Selkirk.
But the council needs to review the arrangements in place to ensure compliance with current government guidance.
“For some time the designated site for Gypsy/Travellers in Scottish Borders has been an area at the Tweedside Caravan Park, Innerleithen,” the council report states.
“Prior to the pandemic there were ten specific pitches for Gypsy/Traveller families, however, this reduced to five pitches in line with COVID restrictions and updated fire regulations.
“It is also of note that this provision is a seasonal site with restricted access during the winter months, it is therefore designated as temporary provision.”
The council has received £50,330 from the Scottish Government to “physically improve” the facilities in Innerleithen, according to papers.
The report adds: “The LiveBorders site at Victoria Park, Selkirk, has been used to temporarily accommodate the families arriving/located within Scottish Borders in line with the need for compliance with the current government guidance.”
Although Victoria Park is seen as the most “viable” choice as a temporary site during COVID, the town’s Ettrick Mill “may be more suitable in the short to medium term”, allowing the park to be returned to a commercial site as early as possible next year.
During Thursday’s meeting, councillors approved a recommendation that officers should continue to scope alternative sites in the event that the Galafoot site costs prove prohibitive as a viable long-term option, with an amendment from SNP Selkirkshire representative Elaine Thornton-Nicol to research smaller sites which would be able to accommodate six berths.
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