Judge Seamus Hughes
Longford County Council has come under fire for its decision to take an “appalling prosecution” against a business owner over his alleged failure to comply with planning legislation concerning the operation of a car wash along a busy national primary road.
Brean Kane, of Kanes 4x4 Autos, Ballymuigh, Lisnagrish, Edgeworthstown, Co Longford was summonsed by the local authority under Section 154 of the Planning & Development Act 2000 following an incident on December 7 2017. The court was told the Council took the prosecution against Mr Kane after a complaint was made by a member of the public as to the operation of a car wash and its proximity to the N4.
Solicitor for the local authority Frank Gearty said the council was no longer intent on pressing for a conviction and would be satisfied with a strike out being given on the proviso costs were awarded its way. Mr Gearty added the car wash itself was subject to planning approval and despite Mr Keane submitting two applications, one of those he said had been rejected.
The stance the council were now taking, he said, was taken largely as result of the fact Mr Kane had actively engaged with a local engineering firm and had since moved the car wash to the rear of the existing garage and away from the main roadway. Mr Kane, who represented himself throughout the court hearing, said he had tried to meet every demand made of him by the local planning authority in a bid to keep three people in gainful employment.
He also said he had been required to get a road assessment carried out which would cost him €6,000. Mr Kane said at “every turn” he was faced with obstacles to try and meet the requirements asked of him and had recently encountered a 50 per cent hike in commercial rates.
Judge Seamus Hughes said he could not fathom why the prosecution had been taken in the first instance as he directed his ire at Mr Gearty.
“The garage has been there for the last 20 years, move the bloody road,” he said.
The judge described it as an “appalling prosecution”, telling Mr Kane he was wholeheartedly on his side.
“You have the total sympathy of the court,” said Judge Hughes.
“I am making no order at all and if I could award you costs, I would.”
The case was consequently struck out.