A long legal saga over a taxi firm using a Wigan town centre building without planning permission has finally come to a dramatic end.
Crusader Taxis has now moved out of the Wallgate building after months of work by the authorities to force the company to abide by the rules.
The row has been going on for almost 12 months after the firm moved into the former financial services shop opposite the train station and involved Wigan Council having to take the matter through the courts.
However, what was previous a stand-off has now come to a sudden end, with Crusader’s ex-owner Hossein Ghorbani seemingly no longer involved with the company and the new leadership promising to rebuild bridges and repair the damage caused to the firm’s reputation.
Crusader Taxis has now agreed to cease using the premises with immediate effect, vacate the building and remove all its advertising material.
Monica Sak, speaking on behalf of Crusader Taxis, said: “We have apologised to the council for the dealings they’ve had with the firm over this issue, and look forward to building a new relationship with the council going forward.
“We will ensure that the company maintains the highest standards, abides by all regulations, and delivers an excellent service for the people of Wigan.”
Wigan Council was forced to take the previous owner, Ghorbani, to the magistrates’ court, where he was found guilty of breaching an enforcement and stop notice and fined.
Attempts to overturn both the verdict and the sentence in the crown court subsequently failed, landing him with a £1,000 penalty and £1,800 in costs to pay.
In an attempt to force Crusader out of the occupied building Wigan Council cancelled all its contracts with the firm to take children to school.
The building’s landlords Network Rail were also working on enforcement action based on possible breaches of the tenancy agreement.
Despite all this the firm continued to brazenly trade from the town centre office, especially at busy weekend times until Ghorbani, who never acknowledged any wrong-doing, suddenly left the helm of the company.
Wigan Council said it was pleased the drawn-out process is now over and expressed its hope it would be able to work better with the new owners of Crusader Taxis.
Karl Battersby, director for economy and environment at the town hall, said: “We are grateful the company has decided to work with us, and that the situation has been resolved.
“We look forward to a more productive working relationship going forward.
“Where there are breaches of regulations, our approach is to be firm but fair and will try our best to work with local businesses to resolve any issues before taking action.”