North-east council could pay Travellers £6,000 each season to run halting site

Aikey Brae is earmarked for a proposed Travellers halting site.

A North-east council could pay Travellers to look after and clean up their own halting site, the Evening Express can reveal today.

Aberdeenshire Council’s Traveller sub-committee will vote on three options for how the local authority will look after a halting area at the historic Aikey Brae, Old Deer.

A total of 10 pitches would be created in a bid to steer Travellers away from private land.

The site would cost an estimated £351,000 to develop, which would include the installation of CCTV.

One of the three options suggests a resident who is a Traveller to look after the site, paying the person £6,000 seasonally.

The move has already been introduced in parts of England, including Norfolk.

The Traveller appointed to be the “seasonal manager” would work almost four hours per day.

A report by Stephen Archer, director of infrastructure services at the council, says: “The option is for the site to be managed by a Traveller who would be resident on site.

“This way of managing fully serviced sites is in operation in some areas on England. Norfolk County Council has been managing two sites in the area in this manner, however, it is currently phasing out this way of working.

“Pressures from within the Travelling community could influence the decision of resident managers on who has access to the site.

“Another area of concern is the provision of cover when the resident manager is on annual leave or away travelling.

“Planning for cover at very short notice could prove problematic.”

One of the other options would involve the site being looked after by the council’s Traveller liaison officer.

The third option involves leasing or selling the site to the Travellers. Last year, three other sites across the region – at Ellon, Inverurie and Laurencekirk – were put forward for the committee to consider but weren’t taken further.

Committee chairman Councillor Allan Hendry said: “We are going to be discussing the management of the site. It’s an option to have a Traveller looking after the site. Some people will be for it or against it. It will be a democratic decision.”