No support for Aikey traveller site

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Strong views were expressed during a public meet at Old Deer last week to discuss proposals to establish a gypsy/travellers site near the village.

Aberdeenshire Council has been investigating the possible use of a disused quarry at Aikey Brae as an official stopover site, having previously been used unofficially by Gypsy/Travellers visiting the area.

Local councillors and more than 60 members of the public attended the meeting, which took place at the Kemp Hall in Old Deer last Monday.

The meeting was chaired by the council’s head of housing, Douglas Edwardson. Also in attendance were representatives of Police Scotland, NHS Grampian, and specialist officers from the council.

The proposals for Aikey Brae would see the creation of 14 pitches and a water access point. When in use, the council would provide one portable toilet per family, and collect waste on a weekly basis.

Following the public meeting, consultation will take place with gypsy/travellers until August 2013, when a report will be brought before the Buchan Area Committee.

Should the final scheme be supported, the planning process would begin, involving further local consultation before the application is brought before the area committee for final determination.

There were a number of questions from members of the public, covering a broad range of themes.

Concerns relating to crime and the clear-up of sites were raised several times during the meeting, as well as queries as to how the length of stay could realistically be managed. Other concerns included related to local farming and untamed dogs worrying livestock and other claims relating to ‘intimidation’.

At the request of the audience, a straw poll was conducted which highlighted most of those present were opposed to the proposal, and none showed support.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Edwardson said: “The comments made regarding the proposals will be a key part of the consultation process and will be reported to the Buchan area committee.”