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Bradford gym owner’s fury over noise inquiry
A gym owner has reported Bradford Council to a watchdog over its handling of a noise complaint regarding her business.
Julie Kent, who runs Kents Fitness with her son James, said she is so frustrated she would move the business to another city if she could.
She wants the Council to apologise and pay towards her legal fees after the investigation and outcome of the complaint, which has taken 21 months to conclude.
The Council received complaints about noise from classes at the fitness centre in Undercliffe Road in May 2012 and began a prosecution in August 2012. The case was due to go to trial at Bradford and Keighley Magistrates’ Court in July, 2013, but that was called off after Miss Kent accepted a formal caution.
She said she was also asked to pay £2,500 towards Council legal fees and a further £2,500 to environmental health – later reduced to £2,500.
But after paying a £500 instalment she stopped the payments and the case was back before magistrates last week where it was dismissed.
“After the first payment, I thought, this can’t be right, so we asked for the equipment back,” she said.
The Council now has to give back Miss Kent’s equipment and she is expecting the £500 to be returned.
But Miss Kent, who has run her business for 22 years, said she asked the Council not to take the case back to court, anticipating that it would be thrown-out, and wants her legal costs paying for that hearing.
“I’ve never felt so aggrieved,” she said.
The businesswoman said in all the situation has cost her thousands – £22,000 to re-route an air conditioning system to stop noise escaping from a vent, £4,000 in hiring a sound system after hers was seized, plus more than £10,000 in legal fees.
She has now referred the case to the Local Government Ombudsman.
Suzan Hemingway, Bradford Council city solicitor, said the company accepted a formal caution in July, 2013, and so admitted four criminal offences of causing a statutory noise nuisance.
She said: “The company also agreed to pay a contribution to the Council’s costs and to surrender the offending sound system. Following a hearing in the magistrates’ court on February 4, 2014, the Council will be returning the sound system to the company.
“The court made no order for payment of legal costs and the formal caution remains in place.”
The spokesman did not comment on whether the £500 Miss Kent had paid so far would be returned.