Published: 02/03/2014 13:00 - Updated: 28/02/2014 15:32

Travellers plead for 'honesty'

Written byJoe Millican

A LARGE travelling family has voiced its desire to be left in peace, amid fears that it may be forced by Moray Council to vacate the site it has called home for more than a decade.

Thomas McPhee wants Moray Council to scrap its plans to demolish two sheds, including the one behind him, which lie on land occupied by his family in Keith.
Thomas McPhee wants Moray Council to scrap its plans to demolish two sheds, including the one behind him, which lie on land occupied by his family in Keith.

The McPhees have occupied an area near Keith Golf Club for 13 years, and claims to have had very few problems with the local authority in that time.

However, the family has now raised concerns over a plan by the council to remove two asbestos-roofed sheds from the site. They want at least one of the buildings to remain, but the council has deemed them to be a health hazard.

According to Thomas McPhee, one of about 20 members of the family whose caravans occupy the ground at Cottage Woods, the issue has cast potential doubt over the family’s ability to remain on the land.

He alleges that the family has been “threatened” by the council on the subject, and claims he was told their lives “could be made hell and difficult” should they stand in the way of demolition crews.

Mr McPhee is now questioning whether the move to demolish the sheds is part of a wider council plan to eject his family from the site, which is owned by the local authority.

A Moray Council spokesman denied the allegation of threatening behaviour, but did say that the continued occupation of the land posed a risk to health. The spokesman described the two buildings as being in a “dangerous condition”.

The McPhee family want one of the sheds in particular to remain, as they have used it for storage over the years. Items kept in it include the vehicle owned by Mr McPhee’s late father, Hector, who died last year.

The bigger issue, according to Mr McPhee, is what he fears may happen after the sheds are taken down. If the family are told by the council to leave, he questioned where they would go.

“All we want is to be left in peace, and we would like to buy the site, as our families have lived here for the last 13 years,” he said.

Full story in Northern Scot print version.

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