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Traveller site management rules agreed for Aikey Brae ahead of opening

Aikey Brae site
Aikey Brae site

New management rules for a 10-pitch Traveller stopover site were agreed at a council meeting yesterday.

The £250,000 project at a disused quarry at Aikey Brae near New Deer is now almost complete and due to welcome its first residents by the end of March.

And the Gypsy/Traveller sub-committee has now agreed on the rules that will govern the seasonal site.

The site will operate between April and September on a first come, first served basis with a maximum stay of two weeks being enforced if there is a waiting list in place. If there is no waiting list, residents will be able to stay for the duration of the season.

The development includes toilet and washing facilities and will be managed by the Gypsy/Traveller liaison officer as soon as the vacant post has been filled.

Other conditions for users include the adherence to the council’s code of conduct and a ban on keeping any horses on the site.

Any form of working on the land will also be banned.

Chairwoman of the sub-committee Anne Stirling asked officers to ensure a “welcome pack” would be ready for the opening, and said: “I envisage it will be a similar document to the tenant’s handbook and will contain information about local services, our code of conduct and even things like the bus timetables.

“I think we also need to be quite innovative in our delivery of this and offer it in video form or even an app that the residents can access on a smart phone.”

A report was also presented to the members outlining research on the Grampian Gypsy/Traveller Accommodation Needs Assessment carried out by Aberdeen University and Grampian Regional Equality Council (GREC), which made recommendations adopted by the committee.

One recommendation being taken forward is to develop more “informal” stopping places and perhaps the reopening of “bouldered-off” historically used sites throughout the region.

Mrs Stirling said the action plan would prioritise the improvement of relations between the travelling and settled communities and would try and alleviate any “negative stereotypes” by offering some “bridge-building” events later this year.

Education support officer Sandra Sutherland said provisions were being set up to coincide with the opening of the New Deer site to allow the children staying there to have access to education either through specialised learning packs or by attending the local primary school.

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