Big bill for roadside ad board

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AN ADVERTISING board has cost a businessman more than £1,200 after a court ruled it illegal.

Tom Hibbitts was prosecuted by Durham County Council over an ad promoting Hibbitts Electricals and displayed close to the A167 on the edge of Durham City without planning permission.

Hibbitts, of South Road, Durham City, failed to attend when the case went before Consett Magistrates, and no mitigation was offered.

In his absence he was fined £525, plus court costs of £680 and a £15 victim surcharge. He was given 28 days to pay.

The sign was first spotted by council officers on or about November 11, last year.

The authority said it tried to contact Hibbitts by letter and by email a number of times asking him to move the advertisement.

But it was only taken down in January, after a court summons had been served.

Stuart Timmiss, head of planning, said: “Pursuing people through the courts is a last resort, but in this case we felt we had no alternative.

“We made repeated attempts to work with Mr Hibbitts, and he had been given a number of warnings.

“Placed illegally and close to a busy roadside, the advert was so distracting that it created a hazard endangering both pedestrians and motorists in the area.

“It’s important the public know that we will act to protect them and the law.”