Olive Press Exclusive: British Labour MP in local access row

LAST UPDATED: 16 May, 2009 @ 08:59
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A British Labour MP has become embroiled in a vicious neighbours’ dispute after she bulldozed access to nearly a dozen homes.

Margaret Moran, who has had a home near Órgiva in the Alpujarra since 1984, had to call police after her house was surrounded by an angry mob last week.

Her neighbours, who include a mixture of Spanish, English and Greeks, claim she has illegally cut off a path that they have been using for more than 20 years.

Now forced to find alternative, more complicated routes, they insist she is breaking long term verbal agreements.

Betraying any socialist values, they claim, she has even abused her office by using House of Commons letterheaded paper to order them off her land and remove vehicles.

Nick Nicholson, 54, who works in the oil industry, said: ‘Official notepaper has been stuck on her gatepost warning us it is private property. One letter was even been pinned on a motorbike warning of its pending removal. It must be an abuse of her position.’

The technician, who spends time at a holiday home near to the MP in the Alpujarra, made famous by Chris Stewart’s book Driving Over Lemons, added: ‘Our big mistake was not getting anything in writing, but I have been using this path for nearly 20 years and I am not about to stop now.

‘We did not come here for this sort of petty behaviour. It is bloody minded, mean and tawdry and has brought us all down.’

Another neighbour Jake Woodcraft, 30, who lives with his wife Ananda, 28, and children Charlie, 2, and Jamie, 6, has filed an official complaint with police after his water was also cut off by the MP.

The builder, who was given permission by Moran to bring construction materials to his site, just below her house, told police the path was cut off ‘without warning’ after being used by neighbours for more than 20 years. ‘It has been a complete nightmare. She is messing with all our lives,’ said Woodcraft, who bought the plot of land ten years ago. ‘Because my water pipes go across her land she has dug them up. She said get a solicitor to come and negotiate with her, but we haven’t got the money for that.’

The Blairite MP for Luton South claims she became the subject of ‘mob rule’ when she attempted to shut off what she insists is an illegal track across her land.

The politician, best known in the UK for having the second highest expenses bill in Parliament, claimed a mob turned up when the digger arrived.

During the disturbances, she claims her brother was attacked by Woodcraft, and she has since filed an assault claim. Woodcraft vehemenently denies this.

‘I have it all on video tape,’ Moran told the Olive Press, exclusively this week.

‘It was terrifying. He started getting aggressive and attacking my brother. He was pushing and shoving. He had a pickaxe in his hand and I thought he was going to club him at any time.’

‘We came here for peace but it has just been stress, stress, stress.’

The
Blairite politician, who claimed 137,000 pounds (202,000
euros) in expenses last year, has a large detached
farmhouse, worth around 350,000 euros, in a prime position in the foothills of
the Sierra Nevada mountains.

But
despite being surrounded by acres of beautiful countryside she claims it has
become impossible to rent in recent years due to the dispute.

Partly
blaming writer Chris Stewart for the huge influx of British people to the
region, she says people have become lawless, dumping cars and ‘disrespecting’
the land.

The
issue, she claims, revolves around the fact that she has been allowing
neighbours to use their private road for years to get to their houses.

While
she permitted them to leave their cars at a specially created parking zone
close to her house and then go on foot, she hadn’t bargained on the sheer
numbers of vehicles.

While
decades ago most neighbours used only mules, nowadays most households have two
cars or more.

To
make matters worse, she says, she stupidly agreed to let two neighbours dig out
additional tracks to construct their houses, only for them to continue using
them once their homes were finished.

‘We
tried to accommodate people by digging out parking spaces in our terraces, but
now there are often ten cars parked there, alongside machinery and bikes.

‘Many
of them are dumped and it has started to look like a scrap yard.’

So
she decided two weeks ago to solve the problem by shutting the access road to 10
houses and bulldozing the parking zone.

‘We
got all the right permits from the courts,’ she insists. ‘we are entitled to clear up the terraces and close the
parking spaces. Any day now we can put up fences.’

But
when they began the work
to
close the parking spaces neighbours reacted furiously. The Guardia Civil were soon on the scene,
however, and
the neighbours were pacified for a time.

But
the MP is anything but optimistic. ‘We know we can’t stop people walking to
their homes, but we don’t want everyone digging roads across our terraces. We
just want people to be reasonable and deal with this thing legally through our
solicitor.’

While
she might have a point, it is farmers like Nuri, who
has been crisscrossing this land for the last three decades, who stand to lose
the most. Travelling only by mule, he said: ‘Who is this person to turn up and
tell me which old track I can use? Margaret Moran is supposed to be a socialist
MP. She is behaving like an English imperialist from the days of the Raj.’

2 COMMENTS

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  1. Neighbors’ Abogados should just simply check Spanish Law – it gives free access to neighbors homes without the need for “extra” agreements. Moran may cry about this – she seems to cry about lots of issues… but to no avail.
    Maybe she’s used to “being in a place where politicians have unique “priviledges” – BS, this isn’t one of them.

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