Residents get say on Aikey travellers site

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CONCERNED residents in Old Deer and the surrounding area are to be given the chance to air their views about a travellers stopover site.

A public meeting is to be held to discuss proposals to establish an authorised gypsy and traveller facility on the outskirts of the village at Aikey.

Aberdeenshire Council has been investigating the possible use of a disused quarry as a stopover site, but there is a growing strength of community feeling against the proposal.

The meeting will take place at the Kemp Hall in Old Deer, from 7-9pm on Monday, May 13, and will be chaired by Aberdeenshire Council’s Head of Housing, Douglas Edwardson.

He will be joined by representatives of Police Scotland, NHS Grampian, and specialist officers from Aberdeenshire Council ahead of a presentation and public question and answer session.

One resident of the village recently told the Buchanie that there was a lot of opposition to the plans.

The man, who did not wish to be named, said: “The council is using this ridiculous and out-dated claim that gypsies and travellers used this area in the past.

“But perhaps they should remember that the travellers were driven out of the area by a previous local authority which condemned the use of the space and the mess created.

“Quite simply we don’t want these people being dumped on our doorstep simply because other areas don’t want them.”

The Buchan Area Committee initially discussed the proposals at its meeting February when members called for a meeting to give members of the public the opportunity to share their views on the scheme.

The proposal includes the creation of 14 vehicle pitches, a water pipe, portable toilets and waste facilities that would be managed by the council’s housing service.

Douglas Edwardson said: “The need to identify authorised stopping sites for Gypsy/Travellers has been a high priority for the council for a number of years.”

“We fully appreciate this is a sensitive matter, but as Aikey Brae has been used by Gypsy/Travellers on an informal basis for a number of years, we feel its potential use as an authorised site is worthy of investigation.

“The upcoming meeting will give members of the public that chance to hear how and why the proposals have been developed, and allow them to ask questions of a range of officers.”

Following the consultation, a further report on the proposals will come before the Buchan Area Committee in due course.