plans to re-designate the road adjacent to Baird Park as an off-street car park have been backed by councillors.
Once implemented, the stretch of road, which is an old section of the U161K Netherley Road, will be subject to new council policy, making it an unsuitable site for unauthorised traveller encampments.
Speaking at the Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee meeting on Tuesday, a representative from Aberdeenshire Council explained that plans were in place to install a £2,000 height and width restriction barrier at the entrance to the road, restricting access to cars and light vans only. Authorised access will be given by permission from the local authority.
The plans will now be subject to an eight week consultation period, in which interested parties such as the AA, RAC, Road Haulage Association and others will be consulted for four weeks before a public consultation, when site notices will be erected seeking comments from anyone who wishes to make a representation.
The site has become increasingly popular with travellers in recent years, with the most recent group pitching up within the last couple of weeks. Members of the settled community have objected, saying that it causes problems with access for members of the youth football teams ot Baird Park, as well as the recently established adjacent allotments. Complaints have been made regarding the mess left behind when the unauthorised encampments move on.
Area Manager Willie Munro said that there could be no guarantees that travellers would definitely be prevented from getting access to the site, but he added that the new legislation should make it easier to move them on. He said: “At the moment that is basically just a redundant public road. The new policy on unauthorised encampments is not to allow them to stay in car parks, so by designating this is an off-street car park it will give us a much clearer frmaework to work with.”
Stonehaven and Lower Deeside Councillor Wendy Agnew said that while she backed the plans, it might have been better to make the road a one-way through road. She added that she wanted assurances that if unauthorised encampments arrived at the site, that they would be swiftly removed.”
Stonehaven and Lower Deeside Councillor Peter Bellarby said: “There is no doubt that unauthorised encampments are a huge problem to the community in Stonehaven and this is one way to address this and reduce the problem.
“I have no qualms with the gypsy travellers pursuing their lifestyle, I think that people should have the freedom to do things their own way. But only as long as there is no harm done to anyone else, and you have to take into account the effect on other people.
“There have been allegations of unacceptable behaviour by members of the travelling community and I believe this, and the surrounding area are unacceptable sites for encampments.”
Councillors unanimously supported the proposals, but they may have to consider them again if any objections are received during the consultation process.