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Brighton and Hove car wash boss 'victimised' by council
A car wash entrepreneur says Brighton and Hove City Council is victimising him because his family has spoken out over its car parking charges.
Robbie Raggio this week lost an appeal against council enforcement action ordering him to close a car repair workshop in Hove.
He claims his family’s stance on rises in city centre parking charges has turned the council against him.
Mr Raggio, of R&G Developments, is best known for running the car wash at Hove railway station.
He told The Argus he opened a car repair business in Cowper Street about three years ago.
There was existing permission for him to use the site for valeting cars because that was classed as “light industrial”.
"Planning regulations on business premises are in place to protect against over-development and to preserve the quality of life for residents."Councillor Christopher Hawtree, chairman of the city council planning committee
Last year the council issued an order telling him to stop the repair business because it is a different category of work – “general industrial”.
It said the work would involve noisy machinery and work.
Mr Raggio appealed against the ban but the Planning Inspectorate this week upheld the notice.
Coun Christopher Hawtree, chair of the city council’s planning committee, said: “Whilst it is heartening to see businesses expanding in the city, changing from light to general industrial almost certainly involves moving to more suitable premises.
“Planning regulations on business premises are in place to protect against over-development and to preserve the quality of life of residents.
"This council is keen to support employment potential alongside housing but we must ensure that residents’ peace is not disturbed.”
Mr Raggio’s son Elliott spearheads the group Traders Need Transport, which has campaigned to reverse council policy on raising on-street parking fees.
Mr Raggio said: “This is victimisation. It is ridiculous. The guys there are employing staff locally. The council are stopping it. It is supposed to be a council supporting employment. They are kicking us all the time.”
He said there are three mechanics working at the site, and that they had not received any complaints about noise.
It is understood he now intends to apply for planning permission to change the permitted use of the site. He said he is taking legal advice over whether he can keep the garage open.
Mr Raggio said he would not allow the decision to spoil his 52nd birthday today (September 14).
In response to his comments, a council spokeswoman said: “A government inspector agreed with the council’s decision, clearly showing that we were right in taking this action to protect the quality of life of residents living near the premises.
“Any trader who changes the nature of his business without gaining the relevant planning permission is likely to be served with an enforcement notice.
“A simple phone call to the council’s planning department would have established that, in this case, permission for change of use was required.”