Making it Real event held in Newtonhill

MORE than 400 people turned out to an event last weekend in Newtonhill to have their say on issues affecting the village and the surrounding area.

The Making it Real event, held on Saturday in the Bettridge Centre, gave residents an opportunity to air their views on a range of issues, including the campaign to re-open Newtonhill train station and a proposed gypsy traveller site on land opposite Tesco and north of the telephone exchange.

Many residents expressed the feeling that the proposed site was too close to existing housing in Newtonhill and would only serve to encourage others to set up illegal encampments in Newtonhill itself. Local resident, Torcuill Torrance, brought along a petition for local residents to sign, which, along with an online petition, has now attracted nearly 700 signatures.

The Newtonhill, Muchalls and Cammachmore Community Council has said that it recognises that the issue is complex and that authorised sites need to be established as the Gypsy/Traveller community continue to find employment in the area, for example refurbishing driveways. Making it Real organiser and Vice Chairman of the Community Council, Michael Morgan, said that Aberdeenshire Council must listen to the concerns of the settled community and drop this proposal.

Since the meeting, the Elsick Development Company, who had proposed to create a site there as part of their plans for a new town at Chapelton of Elsick, have said on their website: “The Council had expressed an interest in delivering the pitches as early as possible and had discussed the possibility of using the small field immediately north of Newtonhill telephone exchange as it has good access, a water supply, and is convenient for existing services.

“However, the Council is not pursuing its interest in that site and the Design Team is continuing to look at candidate sites in the main body of the site. We do understand that this is a sensitive issue in the locality but we can see the advantages in making a properly considered site available rather than the alternative of illegal camping.”

The Elsick Development Company were also represented at the Making it Real event, and visitors were invited to comment on a range of house styles and design priorities.

Local MSP, Maureen Watt and three local councillors, Ian Mollison, Carl Nelson and Paul Melling attended the event, which was organised primarily to report back to the community on the progress made on the suggestions provided by local residents at Planning for Real and to ask the community for further input on the topics where they consider action is needed.

The organisers, Community Council Vice-chairman Michael and KMAP’s Diane Collinson, said that they wanted to thank everyone who came along to Making it Real in Newtonhill. There are still opportunities to have your say and also to volunteer by contacting the organisers or leaving a message at the Bettridge Centre.