Firm to close af­ter coun­cil evic­tion

The Oban Times - - News - SANDY NEIL sneil@oban­

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.

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