A company which owes £9,000 in Parking ticket fines is threatening a council with court action unless it drops its demands for money.

Suttons Solicitors, acting for Brighton firm Glowzone, has given Brighton and Hove City Council seven days to respond to its arguments that all the penalty notices the authority has ever issued are invalid.

The council is attempting to push Glowzone into liquidation to recoup the debt it owes, which it has racked up as its fleet of eight vans travel across the city every day to fix gas and water leaks.

Glowzone director Mike Gurney said he was so confident of his case, which argues the tickets are invalid because of incorrect wording, that if the council did not drop its demands within a week, he planned to pursue court action of his own against the authority.

Mr Gurney, 48, said: "I am desperate for something to happen because it is affecting my business.

"Clients have seen in the paper that the council is trying to liquidate us and so they are worried about using us.

"My business is just hanging in the balance while the council decides what it is going to do.

"It can't go on like this so we will take them to court to sort this out."

Mr Gurney's workers are often issued with parking tickets while dealing with emergencies in the city.

He said he always paid the tickets if the van was causing an obstruction or inconvenience but refused when they were parked in a residents' bay or somewhere similar.

Stephen Sutton, of London-based Suttons Solicitors, wrote to the council at the beginning of June detailing how, in his view, various parts of the wording contained in the council's penalty notices were inconsistent with the Road Traffic Act 1991 and therefore invalid.

Similar cases have been successfully fought and won through the National Parking Adjudication Service.

Mr Gurney also claimed to have discovered that the wording of the council's charge notices, which it issues when penalty notices are not paid, fails to meet the requirements of the Road Traffic Act.

The city council said its tickets were legal and enforceable, though did not detail why.

But it has not proceeded with its original threat to start liquidation proceedings in the High Court.

Mr Sutton said: "The ball is in the council's court. It can drop its attempts to wind up my client's company.

"If it does not respond within seven days, the next step is up to my client.

"One option is to go to court to formally challenge the threat that is hanging over Glowzone."

A council spokesman said: "We've outlined the issues in our previous statement but we're not able to provide a running commentary.

"All will become clear once any legal action is concluded.

"We're arguing our case through legal channels rather than the media, to save doing it twice."

Thursday, June 22, 2006