Family outrage at travellers' mess

A STONEHAVEN family have slammed the travellers who left their land covered in piles of rubble and carpeted with rubbish.

A convoy of 21 caravans and motor homes pitched up on 76-year-old Mary McBain's land almost a month ago and refused to leave, eventually forcing Mrs McBain to obtain an eviction notice.

Last Thursday, three weeks after they arrived, the group moved on, leaving the pensioner and her two daughters - Phyllis and Ann - in disbelief at the state in which they have left the field. Concrete, bricks, broken glass, gates, a pram, a chemical toilet and dirty nappies are just some of the things the family now have to contemplate cleaning up. A car and a caravan have also been left behind.

Mrs McBain said: "I feel shocked. Nobody could help. The police wouldn't move them, environmental health wouldn't move them. The mess they have left is just appalling, absolutely appalling.

"There is over 60 loads of rubble left there, and all their rubbish - bags of rubbish. I'm really sick. The last three weeks have been hellish. I'm scared to go from home."

She added: "I think the council should find a place for them but there doesn't seem to be any ground. Nobody wants them.

"They go on about the gypsy travellers but these people are not gypsy travellers. Truthfully the gypsy travellers would be horrified they were being classed as these people because they are clean and tidy. I used to see them going about when I was young - they still had horses then and lovely caravans and they were genuine people - these ones are not."

Daughter Ann Prentice said: "We're the ones landed with having to clear it all up. If they would come into a community, be clean and tidy and respectful to the community they lived in, then people wouldn't mind.

"They have been aggressive to businesses in Stonehaven, they have been aggressive to friends and neighbours who drive up and down past them. If they would just respect the community they came into, the community might respect them."

She added: "There is a big, big problem and it must cost the council a lot of money to keep putting them off sites - money that could be better spent elsewhere in the community. It needs to be sorted out. All the organisations need to pull together and get something sorted out. They need to sing from the same hymn sheet.

"We're still in shock at the mess that is down there and wondering how we are going to go about getting it all tidied up. It is not just the rubble, it's the household waste they have just dumped down the grass banks, the dirty bits of toilet paper everywhere. But we'll get it done."

Sister Phyllis added: "All the authorities need to get together, get everybody together - the travellers included - and get this sorted out, because what has happened to us is probably happening to someone else. Everybody needs to get together and get a solution that is workable, and fair and equitable for everyone."

A spokesman for Aberdeenshire Council said: "Our officers believe this is one of the worst states a Gypsy/Traveller encampment has been left in Kincardine and Mearns for many years.

"The travellers have now moved on, we believe to Loirston Loch in Aberdeen City, leaving a caravan and a car which we will deal with as abandoned vehicles.

"It is most unfortunate that the landowner has been left to deal with this mess at her own expense, not to mention the upset caused to her and her family.

"Some members of the travelling community are very respectful of the sites and communities they visit, adhering to our Good Neighbour Code, but others clearly have no regard for their fellow travellers, the settled community or the environment around them."

He added: "Last year we jointly commissioned some research on the needs of Gypsy/Travellers and Aberdeenshire Council is now working on implementing the recommendations.

"A key factor is the need for transit sites across Aberdeenshire and we have identified several potential sites in our proposed Local Development Plan which has just been published for public consultation.

"We keep in contact with any encampments in our area to offer support from our own staff and a liaison agency commissioned for the purpose. We also make them aware of the Good Neighbour Code and provide toilet and refuse facilities where needed to help keep sites clean and tidy.

"Our approach is very much of partnership working, to find solutions that are tailored to meet the needs of Gypsies/Travellers and the expectations of the settled community."