An illegal roadside car repairs business in Thornton Heath has been fined thousands of pounds.

Irfan Chaudhry, the former sole director of Balham Vauxhall Spares, which was based in Parchmore Road, allowed work to be carried out on the pavement and road outside his premises despite repeated warnings from the council.

On a number of occasions, cars had been left up on jacks, in a dangerous position.

The business was  on a busy through route to, St James the Great Primary School and Nursery, and passed by lots of young children and families, both in the mornings and afternoons. Council officers feared pupils could get hurt.

Before his business was dissolved last year, Chaudhry pleaded guilty to three charges at Camberwell Green Magistrates’ Court on Monday (May 15).

Chaudhry admitted to obstructing the road contrary to the Highways Act, failing to remove significantly damaged, run-down and unroadworthy vehicles as well as cleaning the area of oil and debris contrary to the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act, and carrying out work as a scrap metal dealer when not authorised by a licence under the Scrap Metal Dealers Act.

He was given a £4,840 court bill.

The court was told between June and October last year, Croydon Council officers responded to complaints from neighbouring residents and visited the business on several occasions.

They issued a community protection notice, giving Chaudhry 48 hours to comply with instructions to stop working beyond the boundaries of his premises, to remove unroadworthy vehicles from the highway and to clean the public footpath.

The 43-year-old failed to do so, and during each subsequent visit Chaudhry was told again by officers that work to motor vehicles should not be carried out on the road outside the premises, and that cars should not be left in such a way to obstruct people from freely walking along the footpath.
The court was told that Chaudhry had not dealt with debris, oils and other fluids that he allowed to drain away across the footpath, and had failed to pay a £80 fixed-penalty notice issued by officers.

Return visits revealed that the works were continuing and that untaxed, damaged, dismantled and stripped vehicles were being kept on the road and overhanging the footpath, often with sharp-edged jagged metal bodywork that could prove hazardous to passers-by.
In mitigation, Chaudhry told the court that when he had taken over the business he was unaware of the law prohibiting the working of vehicles on the public highway.

Once informed, he had tried to ensure that employees did not work on vehicles outside the premises.

And he said that he had sent a cheque in payment of the fixed-penalty notice but that it had not arrived.

Chaudhry was fined £540 for consenting to the wilful obstruction of free passage along Parchmore Road and he was also fined another £540 for keeping “significantly damaged, run-down and unroadworthy vehicles” on the Thornton Heath street.

Finally Chaudhry was fined £1,600 for consenting to the carrying out of a business as a scrap metal dealer when not authorised by a licence under the Scrap Metal Dealers Act.

He was also told to pay a £160 victim surcharge and court costs of £2,000.

Andy Opie, Croydon Council’s director of safety, said: “This was a case of a local businessman flagrantly ignoring repeated warnings by council officers that what he was doing was both illegal and antisocial.

“His actions made life very difficult and unpleasant for people living nearby who, in addition to being put at risk by what was going on, often could not park their own vehicles near their homes because cars that Chaudhry was working on were taking any available spaces.”