Plans to evict travellers from site next to outdoor pool

MOVES were being made this week to evict a group of eleven caravans who have set up camp between Stonehaven Leisure Centre and Stonehaven Outdoor Pool.

In recent years thousands of pounds have been spent erecting bollards and security measures to prevent illegal travellers sites from setting up in the town.

However it seems the group, who moved in on Tuesday afternoon, have taken advantage of a weak link in the security measures and have now set up camp on the grass and are less then 30 feet away from the entrance to the popular Outdoor Pool.

They are also situated close to the beach play park, skate park and brand-new picnic area all of which in nice weather attract families to the town.

Local residents took to Facebook to vent their frustration at the situation with many residents looking for the camp to be removed and calling for a permanent solution to the issue.

Following the eleven caravans’ arrival on Tuesday, Aberdeenshire Council acted quickly and sent an officer to the site to assess the situation and immediately set the wheels in motion to obtain an eviction notice.

Head of protective services and waste management Ian Robertson said: “We are aware of a traveller encampment on recreational ground beside Stonehaven Outdoor Pool and are monitoring the situation closely while we take the necessary action to evict them.”

Speaking at the Stonehaven and District Community Council meeting on Tuesday, Councillor Graeme Clark identified traveller sites as an important issue facing the town. He explained that a permanent site must be found in order to avoid illegal sites aeing set up.

He said: “We have got to sort out these travellers, it is the one place we do not have bollards. Once we fix this problem we need to find some money to fence this bit of land off.

“We had hoped we would find a site north of Stonehaven, the landowner was up for it but as soon as he mentioned it to his neighbours it fell through.

“Until we get that it is difficult.”

Councillor Peter Bellarby echoed Councillor Clark’s call for the area to be fenced off. He said: “I have also asked for consideration be given to the erection of physical barriers which would prevent this happening in the future.”

The setting up of the camp next to Stonehaven Outdoor pool comes just weeks before the leading tourist destination is set to open for it’s busy summer season. The facility is set to open on May 26 following extensive repairs to the art deco pool.

There have been concerns voiced that if the travellers are not moved on it could effect the business of the pool. However once an eviction order is obtained the travellers should be made to move on within a week.

The council has spent thousands at Stonehaven in recent years cleaning up after travelling groups and attempting to stop them accessing areas in the town including Baird Park and an area close to the open air pool which has been sealed off with bollards.

The town has played reluctant host to groups of travellers during past summers and tensions have risen as groups visited more frequently.

The travellers have set up camp just as local farmer. Phyllis McBain, attended a meeting in Edinburgh to discuss national guidance for encampments.

The meeting comes following the Feteresso resident’s petition to the Holyrood Public Petition Committee urging the Scottish government to adress the presumption not to prosecute travellers for trespass.