Firm to close after council eviction
A SPECIALIST plant engineering firm that employs eight people will close in September after being evicted from its yard in North Connel.
PMG Services was issued with a ‘planning enforcement notice to vacate the premises’ following a complaint. The ruling was upheld by the Scottish Government Reporter.
However, PMG Services owner Peter MacGregor was under the impression that Argyll and Bute Council would help him relocate.
But he was told weeks ago this wouldn’t be the case.
Councillor for Oban South and the Isles Roddy McCuish said the council has let Mr MacGregor down badly.
Mr MacGregor, who is training two apprentices, said: ‘The council employed an officer to find us a site on Connel airfield.
‘Because it has cost us over £20,000 to defend against the planning department, we have no money to move and invest in a new workshop and because of this they said they would find us a site at Connel airfield.
‘But they told us four weeks ago, after four months, that they would not find us a site.
‘So they have left me with three months to move somewhere and there are no other sites. This week I made the decision [to close] as there is no way out of this situation.
‘So with everything building up, I had a breakdown, to put it mildly.
‘It has absolutely destroyed everything. The planners don’t care. They take their wages and walk away from it.’
Councillor McCuish said: ‘I’m extremely disappointed on the outcome of this tragic tale. I am not disputing the reporter’s ruling, but it really is unbelievable that we have empty sites, no more than two miles from Mr MacGregor’s present address.
‘I feel we have let him down badly.’
Mr McGregor said the problems with the planning department started in 2010, when he took over the yard.
‘ We got a visit from a planning technician,’ he said, ‘ who told me I was operating illegally and that he was going to shut my business down.
‘This went on for six to seven months. Then we had a meeting.
‘At that time, he said it was fine. They said there was no way of policing which vehicles came into the yard and closed the book on it that day and let us carry on.
‘We are surrounded by 12 neighbours and one was complaining a lot about every single thing to do with the yard and that led to the planning department coming back out again.
‘[ The planning department] kept trying to prove we were operating illegally on the site.
‘Just about every week they were driving out. They were like private detectives. All their time was put into this.
‘A lot of businesses rely on us. A lot of people rely on us. We look after crucial services, such as the Lismore ferry.
‘ We don’t want to stay here. We realise we are in a residential area. We want to move, but we need the time to be able to afford to. We need a site.
‘They want to force us out and don’t care that everyone is going to lose their job.’
Elizabeth MacGillivray, who has worked at PMG Services for two years, said: ‘I love my wee job out here.
‘I have two young children to support. I don’t know how I would find another job with so much flexibility and understanding. We have a good team here. We work well together.’
An Argyll and Bute Council spokesman said: ‘The business was served with a planning enforcement notice to vacate the premises by September this year following the investigation of a complaint.
‘This decision was upheld by the Scottish Government Reporter. The business was established without the required planning permission.
‘ We have been assisting the owners by identifying alternative available accommodation in the area and are happy to continue to offer this support.
‘The business expressed an interest in relocating to a site adjacent to Oban airport. The site remains available. However, it is not zoned for the purpose required and there are other constraints associated with proximity to the airport and nearby residencies. As yet, we have not received a planning application.’
Peter MacGregor, right, with staff at the yard in North Connel.