ABERDEENSHIRE Council has taken action to move on a group of travellers who set up camp in Stonehaven two weeks ago.
The local authority served the group, consisting of more than a dozen caravans, vans and other vehicles, with an eviction notice under the Roads Scotland Act, giving them 48 hours to move on from the section of road running alongside Baird Park.
A hearing is also due at Stonehaven Sheriff Court today (March 3) regarding the second encampment on the council-owned leisure centre.
Stonehaven and Lower Deeside councillor Wendy Agnew greeted the news as a positive step on the council’s part.
“I think what happened was that the council decided to look more thoroughly into the Roads Scotland Act and found out that they could do this. The group are causing an obstruction, there is no doubt about that.
“They’ve got until Thursday to move on, and if they don’t then I think the council are going to tow their caravans away, so I think they will move.”
She added: “The bollards are getting put in at the swimming pool too, and I think they will be finished by Friday, so it is all looking good and it sends out a message that the council are going to be stronger about this type of encampment.
“We cannot have this mess left every time, it is just not on.”
Reports of littering, intimidation and fouling have been recorded by locals, who have protested over the behaviour and put pressure on Aberdeenshire Council to act.
The secretary of Stonehaven Youth Football Club, which uses Baird Park for training, hit out at the travellers earlier this week, saying that human excrement and soiled toiled paper was left around the changing rooms and the containers where the club store their equipment. A gas canister had also been left adjacent to the pitch.
Alan Fraser said: “As we cannot get a vehicle driven anywhere near to our storage containers we now have to park on the main road and carry everything across the park.
“From the end of March until end of June, Stonehaven Youth FC will be using Baird Park most evenings for training. We expect approximately 20 to 30 children each evening. Most of the children are aged between 8 and 13 and as such they are brought to the park by their parents.
“Normally the children can be dropped off safely on the side road adjacent to the pitch, the parents can sit in their vehicle and wait for their child. As the encampment has taken up the entire road this will mean that the parents will have to park on the main road causing a significant obstruction - please do not be surprised to see 15 to 20 cars parked on the main road most evenings.
“Alternatively they can park in the leisure centre car park but this also increases the hazard as they will have to cross the main road. All of these additional hazards should be unnecessary.”
Things took a worrying turn late last week when a Facebook page entitled Get the Travellers Out of Stonehaven attracted comments about staging a violent protest against the camps in order to force them to move on. The page has since been removed from the internet and police have confirmed they are investigating posts left on it.
However at Tuesday’s Kincardine and Mearns area committee’s public question time, Stonehaven and District community councillor Stuart Alexander insisted that the town as a whole did not have a racist agenda and the Facebook page did not reflect the community’s feelings.
He said: “It is more to do with frustration at the lack of action by the council and the council should redouble its efforts to resolve this situation for the benefit of both the settled and the travelling community.”