A resounding ‘NO!’ to Aikey traveller plans

Aikey Brae near Old Deer
Aikey Brae near Old Deer

Residents affected by the proposed traveller stopover site at Aikey Brae have given a resounding ‘NO!’ message to council officials.

Faced with three options at a meeting in Mintlaw Academy on Wednesday night, a fourth option of ‘no development’ was proposed by Fraserburgh councillor Brian Topping.

Free from the constraints pertaining to his Central Buchan counterparts, Cllr Topping spoke out on the issue saying while it was all well and good having three options presented, a fourth of ‘no site at all’ should be considered given the strength of local feeling among the 70 or so residents who attended.

The suggestion gained almost unanimous support with only one in favour of a site being created.

The event was opened by Aberdeenshire Council’s Director of Housing and Social Work, Ritchie Johnson, who said that while the session was focusing on Aikey Brae the subject was one being considered across Aberdeenshire.

Among those in the audience were residents, elected members and council officials.

Mr Johnson stressed that no decisions had yet been made and that all views would be recorded.

A public meeting on the project was previously held in May last year, when discussions covered potential crime, the clear-up of sites, and management of the site.

During the summer, members of the gypsy and traveller communites indicated that they would use the facility if developed. Since then, the proposals were developed further to take account of the comments received.

This week’s meeting heard details of the three possible options for developing Aikey Brae, ranging from transit to stopover to permanent. All three options would see the creation of 14 pitches at the site, with security fencing, closed circuit television, and a management office.

Charging for the use of pitches and facilities and a requirement for references from those wishing to use the site were among topics of discussion.

The first option would see the site used as a stopover site, whereby encampments would be permitted for a maximum of 28 days.

Option two would take the form of a transit site, again with a maximum stay of 28 days, with addition of access to electricity and a wash block.

The third option would allow the site to be used on a permanent basis, with no maximum stay.

The audience was then invited to provide feedback on each of the options during an hour-long workshop session.

Following the meeting, Mr Johnson said: “There were a number of strong views expressed during the meeting including, of course, that there should be no development at all at Aikey Brae.

“No decision has been made on the future of Aikey Brae, but it’s important that we hold discussions with the local community regarding how the site might be used should proposals move forward.”