Community council steps into traveller row

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ELLON Community Council is to step up the pace on the issue of what do about the escalating problem of where to locate the travelling people currently encamped at Balmacassie.

Concern has been mounting over the vehicles pitched up to the north of the town.

The community council’s Mark Grant said: “This is a problem that needs to be addressed now, the long-term proposal is years away, while the current situation is unacceptable everyone, including, I suspect, the travelling people themselves.”

Mr Grant expressed his concern that since the travellers had moved on from the Ellon Park and Ride facility a new set of problems had been raised in the Balmacassie Industrial Estate, and with residents from the nearby houses.

He told the Times: “It’s a situation which needs to be handled with sensitivity, and will be raised at our Community Council on April 22, but before then we will be talking to all parties involved, including the council who clearly would like to attract business to the area.”

In the meantime, Ellon Councillor Gillian Owen who has been vigorously attempting to resolve the situation reported that dog walkers from Balmacassie Woodland are being told to walk their dogs elsewhere by the travellers.

Mrs Owen said: “Some of the comments are quite abusive and aggressive and have been reported to the police.

“It has affected the quality of life for some who feel they can no longer walk to the local supermarket, or allow their children in the area.

“It is unacceptable, though I am pleased to hear the Ellon Community Council is getting involved.”

The area under discussion is partly owned privately, though two thirds belongs to Aberdeenshire Council.

The closing down of sites has proved to be unworkable, as the travelling people simply move on, establishing unathorised encampments.

Mrs Owen added: “We need an official halting site which suits everyone, but as Mr Grant say this is unlikely to come about for years.

“We don’t have years, especially if we are trying to get companies to come to Ellon.

“As it stands no self-respecting firm will want to be identified with Balmacassie. We also have to look to supporting the local community who at the moment must feel as though they are under seige.”

The Balmacassie area has been an attractive one for unauthorised camps in the past, with large quantities of rubbish and industrial waste left behind previously, costing the local authority hundreds of pounds to clean up.

The latest group of travellers set up camp in the park and ride last month before moving across the A920 to Balmacassie.

Elsewhere in the region moves are under way to remove a travellers’ camp from an oil company’s car park at Westhill.

The group, thought to total 25 vehicles, pitched up on land leased by Technip near the Tesco store.

Local councillor Ron McKail described the situation as “appalling”.