GOSPORT Borough Council has been ordered to pay £5,000 in legal costs to a minibus owner after it refused to renew his licences.
Bryn Gibson, owner of Cols Cars, in Pier Street, Lee-on-the-Solent, was turned down when he re-applied to use two eight-year-old minibuses.
Mr Gibson believed his vehicles would be exempt from the council’s age restriction rule if he could provide a history of MOTs, proof of ownership and a full service history. He appealed the decision and magistrates agreed.
As well as his £5,000 costs, the council will have to pay a further £3,000 of their own legal fees.
He said: ‘I haven’t got much faith in their legal department – if they were switched on they’d know they couldn’t win this. There was no evidence stopping me from having these two licences.
‘Obviously they totally misunderstood their own conditions. It’s total incompetence and a total waste of taxpayers’ money.’
When Mr Gibson first applied for the renewals he was told to take both minibuses for an engineer’s inspection, which they passed.
At the licensing board the council did not include their own engineer’s report that proved the vehicles were safe and rejected the renewal application based on the age of the vehicles.
Following the appeal the licences have been renewed, while the vehicles will be subject to an inspection every four months – a stipulation under the exception rules. The original decision by the licensing board explained that the council did not want to set a precedent for renewing older vehicle licences.
Cllr John Beavis, chair of Gosport council licensing board, said: ‘Basically we have a rule where vehicles over eight years old cannot have licenses – the exceptional vehicle rule was put in place to deal with limousines used at weekends for weddings with low mileage. That was the reason for extending those vehicles beyond eight years.
‘We will now look at our organisation and whether we need to look at the exceptional rule or whether vehicles can have licenses longer than eight years.
‘We believed we were acting in good faith on behalf of the travelling public.’
A meeting will take place tonight to decide if the council will launch an appeal and to review existing regulations.