The family behind plans to bring a train carriage Thai restaurant to Pitlochry face losing their two refurbished carriages as they meet with liquidators this week.
Fergus McCallum, his wife Isara and their 19-year-old daughter Mia made one final attempt to gather community support for their Wee Choo-Choo Thai Restaurant idea last month by creating a petition.
It now has more than 1,000 signatures.
The McCallums have been pleading with Perth and Kinross Council to reconsider allowing them to lease a plot of land on in the Rie-Achan Road car park, located beside the railway line.
Following a council meeting in June, the decision was made not to market the site for business use.
Despite the family’s petition and work to mitigate the loss of 12 parking spaces, the council maintains the decision against leasing the land is final, and not based on the merits of any specific business proposals.
With no prospect of being able to trade on their chosen site, the McCallums feel they have been left with no choice but to liquidate the company.
In addition, they recently closed Isara’s Thistle and Orchard beauty salon in Pitlochry permanently.
‘Going to lose the trains’
Fergus explained: “We are possibly going to lose the trains. We were meant to open very early in 2021 and we’ve got no money coming in.
“We can’t borrow any more money because we don’t have consent to go forward.
“So the very sad reality is the Wee Choo-Choo is going into liquidation on Thursday. I don’t think we will be able to retain the carriages.
“If we lose the carriages, it’s over. There’s no point.”
The train enthusiasts saved the first class restaurant car and buffet car from the scrapheap and brought them back to their original blue paint to resemble the trains of the era.
The carriages remain in a repair yard in Derbyshire. Fergus believes they could be the last remaining in the entire UK.
He said: “The liquidators said some time in November they will put the carriages back up for sale.
“There’s some vague hope that we can try and get them back. We haven’t got a lot of money any more.”
The petition has 1,173 signatures and the family say at least 500 of these people live in Perth and Kinross.
They are hoping to convince the council and its leader, Councillor Murray Lyle, to hold one final public meeting regarding their proposals.
This is in light of the response to the petition and the new parking provision.
‘We would be devastated’
Fergus added: “To be honest, if the council decided at that point not to go ahead, we would be devastated. But at least there would have been a normal public debate.”
The family are also due to meet with Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Murdo Fraser on November 5.
A spokesperson for Perth and Kinross Council said: “Planning permission was granted to allow Class 3 Business use on part of the Rie-Achan car park in Pitlochry in April this year but no lease had been agreed for the site, which belongs to the council.
“In terms of our duty to deliver best value, the council was required to make a decision as the landowner about whether it was prepared to lease the land for Class 3 business use.
“When the Property Sub-Committee met in June, it was asked to decide whether to lease the land for Class 3 business use in general, not on the merits of any specific proposals.
“Councillors voted five to two against putting the site on the open market for lease.”