Council could U-turn on traveller site ban

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A SCOTTISH council could be set to approve an illegal traveller site – despite it being rejected twice.

Moray Council and the Scottish Government have previously ruled to evict the illegal encampments at the controversial traveller’s site at Doohill, near the village of Lhanbryde.

But in a potential U-turn Moray Council will vote on Tuesday over whether to allow the travellers temporary permission to live on the land.

The Stewart family, of 14 adults and six children, set up home in the area three years ago and if it goes in their favour, the council’s vote would give them permission to stay on the 10,000 square foot land for either 18 months or three years.

As a long-running critic of the site, the council’s own planning commission chief, Conservative Councillor Douglas Ross, has been banned from the upcoming vote.

Mr Ross said: “It’s been a strange decision to say I can’t vote because of my opposition to the site. I feel I am being gagged on my views. This has been a long running saga and questions remain over how the council had handled the situation.

“By this going before the council shows you that it is being seriously considered. The bottom line is this has been an illegal camp and its setting up has been wholly unauthorised.”

300 people have signed a petition in support of the Stewart family’s cause, but if the vote is unsuccessful then Moray Council could move to evict the family this week.

Moray Council has the highest bill in Scotland to deal with illegal camp sites.

An FOI investigation revealed that the council spent over £133,000 on legal fees and clearing illegal encampments over the last three years.

Only one other Scots council, Aberdeen City, hit a six figure sum for the same period.

A spokesman for Moray Council said: “It would not be appropriate to comment while the substantive issue – that of the planning application itself – has still to go before elected members.”

The Stewart family could not be reached for comment.

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