SNP councillors respond to halting site criticism

Ellon and District’s SNP councillors have hit back at remarks by a ward colleague over a proposed travellers halting site in the North-east.

Councillor Gillian Owen criticised the party’s members on the local authority, accusing them of adopting a “NIMBY approach” at a recent council meeting to the proposed use of Aikey Brae.

Officials are now working on a wider strategy for providing stop-over sites following a vote against the Old Deer location.

Ellon Councillor Rob Merson said: “I am very disappointed that Councillor Owen should have attempted to resort to cheap political point-scoring in the sensitive matter of the provision of a gypsy/traveller temporary halting site at Aikey Brae.

“I should clarify that the report which was recently brought before full council was not a planning application – it was a discussion as to how the council should proceed on the proposed roll-out of gypsy/traveller halting sites.

“There is, therefore, no question of having ‘rejected’ planning permission for Aikey Brae as Councillor Owen implied - the Aikey Brae proposal very much remains under consideration.”

SNP colleague Richard Thomson added: “The Aikey Brae proposal would not have solved the problem of unlawful gypsy/traveller sites in Ellon, since the options presented only offered between six and 14 stances.

“A temporary halting site in the area would only give the police justification for moving traveller groups on provided that sites were both adequate and available.

“Given that the element of the travelling community which has been prevalent in this area in recent years tends to travel in large groups of 20 or more caravans, the Aikey Brae proposal on its own would do little or nothing to resolve that situation.”