Sunday, 18 July 2010
Christian Convention Aberdeen.
A senior Aberdeen councillor has defended the local authority’s handling of plans for a major gathering of travelling people which has provoked anger across the city.
Up to 1,000 travellers are expected to arrive at the city’s Calder Park for a five-day religious convention to be held next week.
It is believed to have been organised by the Montrose and Mastrick branches of a travellers’ church called the Life and Light Missions.
Former council leader Kate Dean, who represents the area and lives nearby, was one of the few elected members to be told about the event before the details emerged on Wednesday.
She said that the organisers of the Christian gathering did not ask for the council’s permission, but officials had decided to take control and manage the event after being informed late last week.
“From what I understand the organisers hadn’t contacted the council, the council has had to take the initiative,” she said.
“If you find something like this happening and have the chance to manage it, then that is better.”
An unauthorised event was originally planned for Nigg Bay but council officials asked for it to be moved to Calder Park.
Mrs Dean found out by chance last Friday after she phoned the council’s traveller liaison officer to alert her to an illegal encampment in Nigg.
She was told it was a “suggestion” that would be taken to the authority’s chief executive, Sue Bruce.
“I said that, given the circumstances, I would not raise an objection,” the Kincorth and Loirston councillor said.
“To me it seemed better to have them in one place where they could be policed"
“I understand the various groups of travellers in the city are going to gather there.
“I do understand the community’s concerns but we have had various undertakings from the council and police.”
Mrs Bruce has written to councillors to “apologise” for not informing them about the gathering before it was revealed exclusively in yesterday’s Press and Journal, and to clarify the chain of events.
Meanwhile, the Church of Scotland minister in Mastrick has distanced herself from the event, after an advertisement flyer said it was being held “on behalf of Mastrick Church”.
The Rev Lesley Risby said: “When you see ‘Mastrick Church’ on a flyer the assumption is that it’s Mastrick Parish Church of Scotland.
“Nobody from Life and Light Missions contacted the minister of Mastrick Parish Church about the event.
“It has never had, nor will it ever have, anything to do with Mastrick Parish Church. We do not support this event.”
Life and Light Missions is believed to have a base in Cairnwell Place, Mastrick, but the group could not be contacted yesterday.
Travellers have already started arriving at Calder Park in advance of next week’s event.
About 10 caravans were at the site last night, with dozens more expected to arrive over the next three days.
Pastor pledges travellers’ religious gathering will be trouble-free
church elder ‘shocked and surprised’ by furore plans have caused
GROWING CROWD: Travellers arrive at Calder Park for the Light and Life Missions convention.
A pastor organising a religious convention for hundreds of travelling people in Aberdeen pledged last night that it would be trouble-free.
Jackie Boyd, an elder from the Light and Life Missions church, said the group was only coming to the north-east to preach the gospel.
He said he had been “shocked and surprised” by the furore plans for the five-day event have caused – and he only expected about 150 people to arrive at the city’s Calder Park.
Police initially told community leaders in Nigg that up to 1,000 people were due to congregate at the park, prompting an angry response throughout the south of the city.
Aberdeen City Council said last night it now expected between 50-70 caravans to arrive over the weekend for the Christian gathering.
Mr Boyd said: “We haven’t come for trouble – we’ve come to preach the gospel.
“The marquee we have sits 150 people. Some come in caravans on their own, some come with two or three.
“We work in 47 countries around the world – we do not expect trouble. If there has been trouble with other groups then that’s nothing to do with us. I am shocked and surprised to see such furore about people coming to preach the gospel.”
He added that the church had its own security and that it had been hosting similar events for 50 years.
Local residents have also been invited to attend the daily gospel meetings, after Mr Boyd said the event was not just for travellers.
Nigg Community Council chairman Alan Strachan was outraged when he was told about the event earlier this week.
He said last night: “A thousand travellers were expected for the week, that’s what I was told.
“Even if it was 100 caravans that is less than half that amount.
“We will just have to play it by ear. It is very unclear how many people are coming.”
A mobile police unit is to be stationed at Calder Park next week, while officers from the local authority’s environmental health team will also attend, although Light and Life Missions has promised to clean up the site after the event.
It has been scheduled to run from Monday to Friday.
A council spokesman said: “The current situation is that there are eight caravans at Calder Park. We are expecting a further 17 by tomorrow morning. The latest estimate is that we are expecting between 50 and 70 caravans in total, however that could change.”
By Calum Ross.
One of the comments on this Press and Journal story:
Let us all good citizens dump our asbestos, PCB's and garden waste at Calder Park.
Then blame the travellers for the mess
This is one of many vitriolic comments.
If the word Traveller was replaced with the word Pakistani
then there would be no such comments alowed in the Press and Journal
and any information regarding those who made them would be
handed over to the Police.
A positive comment:
No Dorothy, I think the residents of Aberdeen are missing the point here!!! These are not travellers who are working in the area, or here to cause any harm or disruption to Aberdeen. This is an organised event to which they have been given permission to hold their religious convention. I have worked for Acc for may years and I can assure you that I know what I am speaking about. We are not speaking of unauthorised encampents, this is an organised event. I just wonder if the residents of Cove would be holding such a fuss if it was anything else than a Traveller event. On that note this event is open to all, it is not purely for travellers so please feel free to come along, and may I also stress that I am also a resident of Cove, in fact I live practicaly across the road and as a resident I have no problem with this event taking place. I have more of a problem with the youths that are walking the street of Cove at present causing trouble!!!!!