Aikey Brae residents reject gypsy settlement plan

Aikey Brae residents have rejected proposals to allow gypsies and travellers to be located on a permament site at a disused quarry. Picture: Johnston Press
Aikey Brae residents have rejected proposals to allow gypsies and travellers to be located on a permament site at a disused quarry. Picture: Johnston Press
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THE residents of the hamlet of Aikey Brae in Aberdeenshire have overwhelmingly rejected controversial proposals to locate a permanent site for gypsies and travellers at a disused quarry on the outkirts of their community.

Aikey Brae in the parish of Old Deer regularly attracts thousands of travellers and other visitors every July for its summer fair which has been held annually for more than a century.

Last year Aberdeenshire Council announced that the hamlet had been chosen as a “feasible option” for a stop over site for travellers.

Aikey Brae is already used as an unauthorised encampment by the travelling community.

But at a public meeting in Mintlaw last night the council’s proposals were firmly rejected by local residents.

Three options for the possible creation of a site at Aikey Brae were outlined by council officials to around 70 people who attended the session in Mintlaw Academy.

But the residents put forward a fourth option – that the site should remain undeveloped.

A council spokesman explained: “Attendees were given details of 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.

“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 went on to suggest a fourth option – that the site is not developed for such a use at all – that gained almost unanimous support.”

Ritchie Johnson, Aberdeenshire Council’s director of housing and social work, said today: “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.”