‘ I need licence to rebuild my business’ – Sunderland boss escapes driving ban

Businesswoman Anne Ganley, who appeared in court for speeding and using a mobile phone while driving

Businesswoman Anne Ganley, who appeared in court for speeding and using a mobile phone while driving

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COMPANY boss Anne Ganley has escaped a driving ban – by telling a court how she plans to rebuild her failed business empire.

Hendon-based building firm Thompson’s went into administration in March this year, with administrators also appointed to sister company Taps, the plumbing merchants division of A Thompson & Sons.

Eighty people lost their jobs after the firms collapsed, but 20 posts were saved after Grafton Merchanting GB Ltd took the stricken businesses on.

But former director Ganley told Sunderland Magistrates’ Court she was trying to rebuild the waste management arm of the business.

The 56-year-old stood to lose her driving licence, after twice being caught speeding, once while using a mobile phone.

But she managed to convince JPs that it was vital to the business’s future that she remained on the road.

Michael Rose, prosecuting, told the court that Ganley, of The Cedars in Ashbrooke, was caught by a speed camera driving a Land Rover, doing 42mph in a 30mph zone in St Aidan’s Terrace, New Herrington, on February 25.

She was also using her mobile phone while at the wheel.

On April 4, she was snapped doing 58mph in a Citroen on Durham Road in Houghton, which has a 50mph speed limit.

She stood to lose her licence under “totting up” provisions, after being slapped with three points for speeding in October 2010 and six points in December 2011.However, the mother-of-two told the court it was essential she could drive to meetings in Scotch Corner, Leeds and Newcastle.

She could not spare a member of staff to drive her about and taxis would be too expensive, as she travelled about 26,000 miles a year.

Ganley, who said she worked seven days a week, added: “I just want to be allowed to work. I want nothing from anybody or anything.

“I am not a quitter. With the situation, my children think I should have just walked away from everything and retired and gone cycling.

“I’m busy doing a business development plan for the future.

“We have managed to retain 12 jobs and I am working on a business plan I have for 2014, to get two small businesses I have up and running.”

Ganley said the collapse of her business had left debts of £1.2million, but she hoped to set an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA), so she could pay off personal debts.

But she added her and her daughters were taking “not one ha’penny” since she set up the company five months ago.

Her solicitor Gary Hodgson said: “If she is not able to get this business moving, she cannot do an IVA. She would have to go bankrupt.

“She would not have a chance of getting back the business she has worked so hard all these years to get.”

Chairman of the bench Vincent Lamb said: “We appreciate you have been under pressure, but you cannot go about speeding and using a mobile phone.”

Ganley was fined £125 and ordered to pay £40 victim surcharge and £60 court costs.

Her licence was endorsed with six penalty points.

Thompson Building Centres was set up by Ganley’s father Albert as a scrap merchant 60 years ago.

She joined the business straight from school at the age of 15 and was instrumental in its expansion.