Aberdeen City Council has decided to build a halting site for travellers on Howes Road opposite Heathryburn School, beside the replacement for the Raeden Centre, in an area earmarked for housing in the Local Plan and a stone’s throw away from an established community. The Liberal Democrats opposed the proposal.
Local councillor Steve Delaney said, “The Liberal Democrat Group feel that imposing halting sites on established communities is not the answer. It has the potential to severely impact on the quality of life of people living there if things do go wrong, and this is not something I believe this Council should be doing”.
“Travellers by the very nature of their lifestyle don’t want to be told where to pitch, so I’m somewhat sceptical that we can ensure such sites would be used. Imposing halting sites on settled communities and telling travellers where they will go, is failing to recognise the expectations of either community As a result, the creation of halting sites which might not be used may well amount to no more than flushing public money down the toilet”.
He also raised concerns that a site with capacity for 10 caravans, as is proposed, won’t solve the problem of unauthorised encampments. He said that Police will not move travellers on unless there’s somewhere for them to go.
He continued, “As soon as the site is full, we’re back to the Courts for evictions, so expected financial savings will be minimal. Unless we ring the city with multiple sites, we will be unable to prevent unauthorised encampments. If multiple sites are the Council’s intention, they risk attracting an even greater number of travellers to the city and the capacity issue will be further compounded”.
For avoidance of doubt, the Springhill Road site (old Council depot next to Eric Hendrie Park) is no longer under consideration, but the chosen site is just a few hundred yards down the road.