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Couple win six-year fight to keep advertising boards


A couple who own a garden centre and tea shop have won a six-year fight over roadside advertising signs.

However, Paul and Susan Barratt, who have been running their business for more than a decade, say they are £8,000 out of pocket in legal costs and fear they might not recoup them all.

On Thursday, a court ruled in their favour and said they were not breaching planning rules.

Mr Barratt said: "We feel vindicated and want to be left in peace to develop our business.

"Let us hope this court case means we can leave the signs on the verges without any more hassle."

Over the years, the Barratts have placed two small wooden signs on the verges, in the picturesque village of Newtown Linford, advertising the business. They put them out each day and take them in at the end of business.

But they fell foul of planning enforcement officers at Charnwood Borough Council in 2007.

The council said the signs were not authorised and could pose a risk to highway safety.

The council said the Barratts were breaching planning regulations and, after issuing enforcement notices, took them to court.

However, the couple denied they were doing anything wrong, saying the signs had been on the verges for years and were not causing any harm.

On Thursday, Mr Barratt, 65, of the Sevenoaks Nursery, Groby Lane, Newtown Linford and his wife, who had previously pleaded not guilty to contravening planning regulations and enforcement notices, appeared at Hinckley Magistrates' Court determined to plead their case.

However, Charnwood Council, which brought the prosecution, offered no evidence.

The court ordered Mr and Mrs Barratt should have their costs paid out of Government funds.

Mrs Barratt said: "All along we had said we had deemed consent because the signs had been there for so long without causing any problems."

She said county highways were not upset by the signs.

"They are two small signs on the verge in areas where there is traffic calming and vehicles move very slowly."

Mr Barratt said: "We have placed the signs on the verges for more than a decade. Other businesses place advertising signs on the highway in the village. We feel we are the only ones to be on the receiving end of the council.

"We have had to continually fight for the right to advertise our business. We are half-a-mile out of Newtown Linford and the signs are vital for the viability of our business.

"We estimate this has cost us £8,000. The council knew we were pleading not guilty so why did it not drop the charges when we entered pleas?

"We have been awarded costs by the court but our lawyer said they were unlikely to meet all our expenditure."

A Charnwood Borough Council spokesman said: "The council has made every effort to find an amicable resolution over the last few years.

"The decision to withdraw the prosecution was taken on the day of the hearing following discussions between the prosecutor and defence barrister."

Couple win six-year fight to keep advertising  boards

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