Will there ever be a time in which travelling communities are not members of a misrepresented minority, excluded from the rest of society? This was the question many travelling showmen during the Clyde Gateway regeneration project that was completed in Dalmarnock as part of Glasgow 2014. One of the three themes of the Commonwealth Games’ legacy was ‘inclusion’. That so many showmen (a travelling fairground community) felt that they were excluded because of their ethnicity is troubling in a modern democratic society.
Clyde Gateway is an ‘urban regeneration company’ that was created to revitalise parts of Glasgow for last year’s Commonwealth Games. There were undoubtedly improvements made in the Dalmarnock area. However many people questioned the fairness of Clyde Gateway driving local people from their homes. This sparked a huge debate across the United Kingdom and heavy media coverage surrounding the tenants. However, travelling showman communities in the area did not receive the same media coverage. Their sacrifices went unknown and they were left voiceless victims of discrimination.
In a world in which so many claim that political correctness has gone mad, it’s hard to believe that travelling communities would experience discrimination. After I discussed the issue with members of the local travelling community, it became clear that it was not necessarily being asked to co-operate with Clyde Gateway that they objected to, but the way in which they were treated throughout the moving process. Many were moved from the sites they occupied, starting over a period of ten years prior to the 2014 Games and continuing to this day. The only site licenses they could acquire meant they had to live in industrial estates. At first they were told very little about their future circumstances, despite the majority of them owning the land they were being moved from. They had unreasonable conditions set on the new land they occupied and were excluded from regeneration maps. They also felt that the way they were spoken to on many occasions was disrespectful.
These attitudes toward the travelling community are reflected throughout society. Travellers were protested against when they tried to move into a different area, received late payments after their re-location and told by their local MP that they were not his concern. Linda Johnson, who is the co-owner of a showman’s site just outside the Dalmarnock area, claims that this process has encouraged a negative view of showmen. She feels that this has created major setbacks in their assimilation into the wider community: ‘Clyde Gateway has knocked my people back twenty-five years!’
Roy Thomson, a local showman, demands action against this type of behaviour: ‘Westminster and Holyrood need to take more notice of organisations such as Clyde Gateway, their racist and discriminatory, almost stone-age approach is…worrying’. That anyone could be made to feel excluded and discriminated against in the twenty-first century is morally repugnant.