A NEW report paints a grim picture of the plight of travelling families in Scotland.
In a hard-hitting study, Holyrood’s equal opportunities committee has urged the Scottish Government to spearhead a fresh campaign to crack down on discrimination and persecution against gypsy travellers.
MSPs said they were appalled at some of the “horrendous and deeply-disturbing” conditions in which travellers were forced to live. They concluded that on most council sites conditions were squalid.
The politicians maintain that only a zero-tolerance approach would improve the situation.
In particular, the committee said urgent action was needed to improve relations between the settled and gypsy traveller communities.
The report highlighted the North-east as having particularly acute tensions between the gypsy traveller and settled communities due to a shortage of halting sites, and called for new approaches to be piloted in this area.
Hackles rise in communities when travellers set up illicit encampments - Ellon’s park and ride is again playing host to a group at the moment. But progress on resolving the long-running issue has been painfully slow.
Perhaps this latest damning report will begin to focus minds on reaching a solution at long last.
In other news, schools throughout the North-east were playing their part in raising funds for Comic Relief. Most had a host of activities lined up to swell the coffers.
Congratulations in particular go to Balmedie School, which raised the amazing sum of more than £10,000.
A couple of years ago the school gathered around £4,000 for Red Nose Day so this effort is a credit to staff, pupils and the community who put in a power of work to realise that total.
On a sporting theme, Aberdeen have another new man at the helm with the appointment of Derek McInnes to replace the retiring Craig Brown.
He is the 12th manager to take charge of the club since Sir Alex Ferguson departed for Manchester United in 1986.
There are already mixed views on the choice of McInnes, who has vowed to win over the Pittodrie faithful by producing an entertaining, winning team.
The long-suffering fans will be praying for an end to the tedious fare that has been served up on so many occasions in recent seasons.
The Dons have not won a trophy since 1995, or graced a Hampden final in 13 years.
Jimmy Calderwood’s achievement of securing a top-six place in every season of his tenure is now looked on as “success” in those barren years. Over to you Mr McInnes.