A Welsh Romany Gypsy family has refuted allegations by their multi-millionaire neighbour that they have damaged his family’s land.
The Price family responded to claims by Sir Stanley Thomas that a gypsy family living next to one of his family’s properties had caused “a great deal of disturbance and annoyance”.
Sir Stanley is part of the Peter’s Pies dynasty and is ranked the eighth richest person in Wales, sharing a £225m fortune with his brother, Cardiff Blues chairman Peter Thomas.
His son owns 500 acres of land and a house on Coal Pit Lane, in Marshfield on the Cardiff and Newport border. The property was previously owned by Sir Stanley.
Henry and Patricia Price and their six children have lived next door to the sprawling estate since May 2011 after securing planning permission from a Welsh Government-appointed inspector.
Sir Stanley’s allegations about land damage were contained in a letter he sent to Cardiff Council objecting to proposals for a separate gypsy camp on another plot of land at nearby Druidstone Road.
As previously reported, residents of Druidstone Road – Wales’ most expensive street – have made strong objections to the plans, which would see the creation of five gypsy pitches on designated countryside-land.
Sir Stanley, a prominent philanthropist, lives on Druidstone Road, while his son lives at the Coal Pit Lane property which neighbours the Price family.
In his objections, Sir Stanley alleges that a gypsy family on Coal Pit Lane – who are not named in the letter – have “burnt down my hedges, cut down my trees to give them a better view and poisoned the land to stop trees growing again”.
But the Price family strongly reject all of his claims.
Mr Price, who is a Welsh Romany Gypsy, said he had owned the land for about 20 years and said he felt “really let down” by Sir Stanley’s comments.
The 38-year-old said:
“I did not know there was any animosity over hedgerows, because it has never occurred. He (Sir Stanley) is friendly with our family.
“We are not a blight to the area, we are not animals – we are trying to bring up our kids in a respectable neighbourhood.
“We understand Sir Stanley is a millionaire, but that does not make us any different. I would say to Sir Stanley: ‘Why is he not speaking to me face-to-face?’
“We often invite him over to our place and I treat him like any other man.”
Mr Price, who does odd jobs such as landscape gardening for local farmers, said the Rover Way site was too overcrowded for his family and he had relocated to give his three sons and three daughters the best chance in life.
He said he had adhered to the planning permission that was granted and said he was not aware of any damage caused to Sir Stanley’s land.
“As far as I am aware, nothing has gone on. We have got too much to lose as a family.
“We don’t want to be moving around and damage this or that. Our home is in a clean manner, it’s the way we live,” Mr Price said.
“We might not be as rich as the other people living in the area, but we are human beings.
“I understand we are where they don’t want us, but that is not my problem, that is their problem. We are entitled to live here.”
Sir Stanley, who set up TBI, which previously owned Cardiff Airport, stood by his allegations, but said that he did not realise his comments would be put in the public domain on the Cardiff council website.
He said he and Mr Price had recently “come to a better relationship than we have had for some time” and he had allowed him to use part of his land to park a lorry.
But he “absolutely” stood by the claims contained in the letter of objection, saying that a “beautiful tree” on the property border had been cut down and a hedgerow had been poisoned.
“I don’t want to say anything more about it because Henry and I are now on reasonable terms and the less said about it the better,” said Sir Stanley.
“I made my objections to the council about people coming onto Druidstone Road. It will cause problems and if the people in the council don’t understand that, then they have got no idea.”
Responding to Mr Price’s rejection of his allegations, Sir Stanley added:
“He knows why I’ve said it, because he did it. I wouldn’t tell a lie, I’m a Knight of the Realm, I don’t need to tell lies.”
Mr Price’s wife, Patricia, said:
“I feel let down, to be truthful with you. I have always invited him [Sir Stanley] into my home as a friend. We have never had a problem with him and he has never had a problem with us.”
“I do not want revenge or anything like that, but I want him to know that it has really hurt my feelings and it’s very hurtful,” she added.