Council's legal battle with firm over Tesco car park was 'waste of taxpayers' money'
COUNCIL bosses have been accused of wasting taxpayers' money after it lost a legal battle against a parking firm.
Taxpayers will be left to foot an expected six-figure bill after East Riding Council took the firm to court, accusing it of misleading customers.
The council spent £41,000 on the trial at Hull Crown Court last year under unfair trading regulations.
However, a jury cleared UK Parking Control Ltd on seven charges of misleading customers over the way it managed the Tesco car park at the St Stephen's shopping centre in Hull.
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The company has now won its case at the Court of Appeal, where a single identical charge was quashed.
A spokesman for UK Parking Control said it was "regrettable" the council ever started its legal action.
He said: "We are obviously pleased with the result.
"However, it is regrettable that the case was ever brought, because it was clear we fully complied with the law and the British Parking Association's Code of Conduct and continue to do so.
"The council should have discussed this with us properly at the time and contacted the British Parking Association Council to verify that this was the case.
"Had it done so, a lot of taxpayers' money would have been saved."
The council's legal costs for the appeal hearing will now be added to the bill for the original case at Hull Crown Court.
The total cost has not yet been calculated but the Government will foot the bill using taxpayers' money.
The parking firm is expected to recover the majority of its legal costs from another national fund set aside by the Government.
Paul Bellotii, head of housing and public protection at East Riding Council, said the council took independent advice before starting legal action against the company.
He said: "UK Parking Control Ltd. successfully appealed its conviction, at Hull Crown Court in September last year and was awarded costs from the central fund, not the council.
Mr Bellotii said: "The council normally seeks compliance in the first instance from business operators but, where necessary, will take appropriate action.
"In this case, it secured national funding to pursue prosecution to address what it believed was wrongdoing by a parking control company."