Caravan park residents slam Lanarkshire fraudster for ruining their retirement

Residents of a caravan park owned by a Lanarkshire fraudster have accused him of wrecking their retirement.

Several owners of static caravans on Libby Durant’s Beechtree Park estate in Denny, near Stirling, have left the site, losing tens of thousands of pounds.

Residents, who shelled out £85,000 for properties, claim the caravans were supposed to have a mains gas supply and be set on concrete bases.

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Instead, their units were freezing cold and sinking into the ground, they claim.

Several owners have given statements to the Record about their dealings with Durant, who has a directorship ban.

The site is managed by Mel Smith and his wife Elaine, who is the sole director of a firm at the center of a controversial planning application for 40 homes in Bothwell.

The £25m plans propose building a housing estate on land surrounding Durant’s mansion in the affluent suburb.

Thomas Harkin, 69, claims he dealt directly with Durant when he purchased a caravan in November. However, I have refused to move in.

Security worker Thomas said he paid £85,000 for the mobile home but believes he is likely to get less than £45,000 for it.

Libby Durant’s Beechtree Park estate in Denny

He said: “This has wrecked my retirement. Libby Durant assured me there was mains gas and all he would need to do is contact the gas company.

“He also said the caravan would be set up on a concrete base.

“We shook hands at this point.”

Durant has denied saying there would be mains gas and concrete bases – even though a sales prospectus promised it.

Thomas added: “We have taken the van off the site, it’s now with a reputable company who sell caravans and I’ve been told I may only get back £45k, if I am lucky.”

Liberty Durant with his Rolls-Royce
Liberty Durant with his Rolls-Royce

A female resident who preferred to remain anonymous claimed Durant conducted the sales deal himself posing as Mel.

She said: “He had silver hair, was tall and was well dressed.

“I asked him his name and he said it was Mel. He told me each unit was ‘fully plumbed in’ with gas, electrics and water.

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“After I had purchased my unit, Elaine Smith informed me that I would need to buy LPG bottles from her. I was shocked.

“I told her ‘Mel’ had told me the gas was piped in.

“She explained Mel was her husband and that Libby was the owner of Beechtree. I asked why he would give her husband’s name when I’d met him and she shrugged and said, ‘I don’t know’.”

Three years ago, Durant was given a second 10-year directorship ban after being caught in a £700,000 fraud.

He was also given a two-year suspended prison sentence after being found to be acting as a director while disqualified.

At the time, he was serving a six-year ban for conduct related to another company collapse.

Elaine Smith hung up when we rang. During did not respond to calls.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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