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Travellers request upgrades at controversial north-east stopover site

Aikey Brae, while under construction.
Aikey Brae, while under construction.

Travellers using a new north-east stopover site have requested that the spot be upgraded and the maximum length of their stays be extended beyond a fortnight.

Aberdeenshire Council opened the Aikey Brae site near New Deer in May, having ploughed £250,000 into adapting a disused quarry, despite protests from locals.

The encampment was operated between April and September on a first-come, first-served basis with a maximum stay of two weeks being enforced when there is a waiting list in place.


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On occasions where there was no list, then occupants were entitled to stay for the duration of the season.

During the four months it was open, feedback was taken from the travellers and their opinions have helped to form a report which will be debated by the council’s gypsy traveller sub-committee on Wednesday.

Director of infrastructure services Stephen Archer has outlined several hopes for the future of the site – which became so well-used over the summer that users asked for the season to be extended.

Mr Archer said: “In a number of cases, it became apparent that the travellers’ preference was to remain on site for longer periods of time.

“This could be facilitated as supply of pitches was higher than demand.

“Surveys suggested that it would be preferable if the facilities could be upgraded to make the site more attractive to travellers, which would contribute to improved health for the families on site.

“All respondents expressed a wish for improved facilities such as toilets, showers, laundry facilities, access to internet for children’s homework and access to television.”

Surveys also found that the majority of travellers would be willing to pay higher rent for
improved facilities, and most would like the length of time they can stay to be unrestricted.

The feedback further indicated that the majority of users would use the site throughout the year, and would be happy to return as Aikey Brae is “secure, well managed, quiet and close to the school”.

The report adds that any of the proposals would have to be “self-funding” in order to come to fruition, “given funding pressures on capital and revenue budgets”.

The camp was set up in effort to prevent unauthorised camps being set up in the region, but attracted a backlash from locals who feared Aikey Brae was an unsuitable location.

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