Pay us £1,200 to move out of your yard, demand travellers
They want cash from businesswoman, 84 – but police say it’s not blackmail
WHEN a family of travellers drove their caravan into her firm’s yard, Eve Taylor was naturally concerned.
But the 84-year-old businesswoman was downright outraged by what happened next.
First the travellers demanded a £1,200 ‘ransom’ to move from the loading bay at her cosmetics company. Then police refused to take any action, claiming the ransom was a ‘proposal, not a demand’.
Mrs Taylor’s ordeal began when the ‘expensive-looking’ caravan and car with two adults and four children parked at her firm on a business park in Peterborough.
Police refused to intervene as the travellers were on private land. During the stand- off, another traveller turned up and demanded the money, warning: ‘It’s cheaper than going to court.’
Great-grandmother Mrs Taylor, who founded her family- run cosmetics business in the 1960s, said: ‘I rang the police and they said “It’s not a threat”.
‘I said it’s blackmail and they told me, “It’s a proposal”. I asked what would happen if I stood there with a gun and they said that would be a threat. I said, “Not if I don’t fire it – it’s only a proposal”.’
Mrs Taylor said she had heard rumours that another local business was asked to hand over £1,600 in a similar scam. She does not know which business it involved or whether they paid. Six caravans had parked on her premises two years ago.
But this time – at 9.30am last Wednesday – she ordered staff to rush to close the gates, and only one got through. A man and a woman with three very young children and a girl aged around 13 parked their vehicles where lorries collect or drop off items for the company, which employs 20 staff and does business around the world.
Mrs Taylor said another traveller turned up shortly afterwards and told her: ‘Give us £1,200 and they’ll be gone in five minutes. It cheaper than going to court. There are five other vans on the way.’
She refused to bow to their threats and prevented the family from returning to their caravan when at one point they left in their car. However, police officers who turned up at about 3pm said she had to let them through. Mrs Taylor said: ‘I pay £40,000 a year in rates but the council couldn’t do anything.
‘They gave me details for some bailiffs’ firms.The police told me to go to a solicitor but what money would I get back from that? Why don’t we get protection as citizens of this country?’
The travellers left at 4pm after their ruse failed. But the business has now installed locks on the gates and a buzzer for visitors to ring when they arrive or leave so staff can let them through.
The company, which makes aromatherapy and skincare products, was founded in London in 1963 but moved to Peterborough in 1984. In 2008 Mrs Taylor was awarded an OBE.
Superintendent Andy Gipp, area commander for Peterborough, said: ‘The situation was investigated and we concluded no criminal offences were committed. The call handler advised the complainant that this was a civil and not criminal matter.’
Outraged: Eve Taylor and the caravan parked on her land