A CRACKDOWN on malpractice by car dealers in Blackburn with Darwen has been launched by the council after the successful prosecution of a motor trader.

Borough customer services boss Arshid Mahmood announced the move to the full Council Forum, highlighting the court case.

It involved Ashton Motors Ltd of Canterbury Street, Wensley Fold.

The borough Consumer Protection Team prosecuted the firm at Blackburn Magistrates’ Court earlier this year.

Coun Mahmood told the meeting last week: “The trader in question sold cars on two separate occasions to two private individuals, but falsely marked the invoices as trade sales, which effectively took away the customers’ statutory rights.

“The cars subsequently broke down but the trader refused to fix them, pointing to the fact that the invoices stated trade sale.

“As a result the Consumer Protection Team raided the trader’s premises under warrant and seized a number of trade invoices from the company’s offices.

“Evidence disclosed further offences of a similar nature.”

Coun Mahmood promised: “A number of cases involving the motor trade will be taken before the courts in coming months.”

In court the council alleged Ashton Motors ‘deliberately operated a policy to mislead customer to its own advantage in that in December 2012, May 2013 and June 2013 the company provided trade invoices to private individuals which contained false information”

Ashton Motors Ltd pleaded guilty to seven charges and were fined £6,600 with £2,464 costs awarded and a victim surcharge of £120.

The penalty totalled £9,184.

Coun Mahmood revealed: “The company director also signed an undertaking under the Enterprise Act 2002 which will allow the authority to obtain an injunction if further offences are committed.”

This means Ashton Motors must refrain from any commercial practice which is misleading in an attempt to restrict a consumer’s statutory rights.

Ashton Motors director Cameron Ilyas said: “Ashton Motors has been running as a successful business for the past nine years and we pride ourselves on our professionalism and sell over 1000 vehicles annually.

“With regret the 7 offences committed between 2012 and 2013 involving the sale of Trade Vehicles under the value of £1800 has subsequently led us to cease trading in this area of the business and continue forward with just retail vehicles that will undergo a full mechanical inspection by a qualified technician on site and will be sold with a comprehensive breakdown warranty.

“In the period 2012-2013 the economy was enduring a double dip recession hence management made the decision to try and sell the Trade Vehicles from site as opposed to sending them to the local auction.

“This decision was made in a bid to limit financial losses. In hindsight, we now acknowledge this was not the right business path to follow.

“We accept full liability for the 7 offences committed and sincerely apologise to all our customers and relevant organisations and can assure you as a company we have learnt from this error and will endeavour to comply with the rules and regulations set by Trading Standards and Consumer Direct and will ensure customer sales, customer care and customer after care is the prime focus of the company. “