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‘We have been treated like dogs’ St Cyrus Travellers’ racial discrimination claim

The Travellers site near St Cyrus.
The Travellers site near St Cyrus.

Mearns residents have been left “overwhelmed” by an illegal Travellers site set up on their door step.

A heated dispute has been rumbling on for two months after a group of Travellers began building work on a plot of private land near the St Cyrus Nature Reserve.

The work has been condemned and criticised by members of the St Cyrus community and councillors for being so close to the nearby nature reserve and for builders allegedly continuing the development despite a court-imposed interdict prohibiting work.

However, Travellers living there said they have been subjected to “unbelievable racial discrimination” while their retrospective planning application sits with the council.

Councillor George Carr said: “There is no doubt that residents in the area are feeling a bit overwhelmed by the site which has appeared on their doorstep, but at the same time they are just carrying on with their lives.

“Their view is that it is up to the authorities to deal with the situation.”

Last week, The Courier revealed Tayside Contracts to be one of a number of firms which had delivered building materials to the site after the interim interdict had been put in place.

The company said they had been unaware of the court order and immediately put a stop on any further deliveries there.

Mr Carr had previously said the Travellers were “holding two fingers up” to the authority but added he was now bound by the constraints of the live planning process and was unable to comment further.

Despite the impending legal action, a leading figure among the Travellers said he and his family and friends have been “crucified” for simply trying to build a home.

James McCallum, who lives in his caravan with his wife and three children, said: “All we want is peace but the racial discrimination that we have had since we have been here is unbelievable.

“We have been treated like dogs.”

He continued: “There’s a 20-year waiting list for the Travellers’ site in Montrose. You tell me where I’m going to go. Aberdeenshire Council said it would have enough sites in 2010 to house 50 caravans.

“If the council had supplied a caravan site, this wouldn’t have happened.”

A spokeswoman for Aberdeenshire Council confirmed it is set to commence breach of interdict proceedings on the site following alleged breaches of the order imposed by the court.

She added: “Any evidence of breaches will be presented to the court as part of these proceedings.”

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