New unauthorised camp at Balmacassie Woodland

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A NEW group of Travellers has arrived at Balmacassie, prompting questions about the cost of council support to unauthorised sites.

The group are understood to have arrived last week, and are maintaining three caravans and an open-backed truck at the site, beside Balmacassie Community Woodland. The site remains in fairly good order as of Monday.

Aberdeenshire Council has supplied the group with two portable toilets, as part of its policy of keeping sites on council land tidy. A spokeswoman confirmed that the council had previously attempted to make unauthorised camps accountable for costs incurred, but had failed.

She said: “The council covers the cost for delivery, installation, maintenance of and removal of toilets to encampments on council owned land. We have tried in the past to recover the cost from travellers but this has not been successful. We cannot provide exact costs for the provision of toilets as it is done on a case-by-case basis.”

The company supplying the toilets, Nixon Hire, charges between £23 and £60 a week, though this wouldn’t take account of any available discounts, and does not include the cost of the council’s own risk assessments.

Cllr Gillian Owen told the Times: “This problem is exacerbated because there are not enough transit sites in the Aberdeenshire area. I understand peoples’ concerns about the siting of a transit site in the new development plan, but at least that would stop travellers setting up illegal camps anywhere they like.”