Limo boss in court fight

After spending most of his working life as a production supervisor at Dereham trailer maker Crane Fruehauf, Alan Bell was determined not to live off the state when he was made redundant.

After spending most of his working life as a production supervisor at Dereham trailer maker Crane Fruehauf, Alan Bell was determined not to live off the state when he was made redundant.

So he staked his savings to set up a limousine hire company.

But now the 45-year-old's business dream is being threatened by a court battle with Breckland Council after he was refused a licence for his left hand drive American car with blacked out windows.

Mr Bell said: "What is really frustrating is that there are mates of mine in King's Lynn doing the same thing with the same type of car.

"Breckland have said that they won't license me because my car is American, as all limos are, and so it's left hand drive, which they think is dangerous."

Mr Bell lives at Scarning with his wife, Clare, her two daughters Chloe, 14, and Georgia, nine, and his elderly mother, Winifred, 80.

Most Read

"I'm just trying to support the family. We've ploughed all our cash into this.

"My wife is a nurse at Dereham Hospital so she is supporting us at the moment. The whole family is helping out, even my mum with her pension."

Mr Bell went to a meeting of Breckland's licensing committee at the end of May and was crushed by the decision which left his entrepreneurial dreams in tatters.

"I have just put so much into this, so I decided to appeal. I don't see why they can do it in King's Lynn but not here.

"I even took my First Aid certificate – I've done everything I can to please the council and I'm not giving up that easily."

Breckland council maintain that the left-hand drive vehicles have restricted vision and therefore a higher risk of accidents.

It is against council policy to license stretched vehicles because they are unsuitable for the "narrow roads" of Breckland.

Nigel Burrows, Principal Environmental health officer for Breckland said: " We understand Mr Bell's decision and have been giving him advice on possible options.

"We have explained our reasons to him."

Mr Bell has launched an appeal against the decision and will appear at Thetford Magistrates Court on Monday.

He will arrive in the car in question flanked by his friends from Bob's Stateside Limos in their identical cars.

Mr Bell said: "I just thought I may as well go out with a bang if they don't change their minds!"

As well as a little help from his friends, Mr Bell has received a tremendous amount of support from the people of Dereham.

But Breckland is not the first council in Norfolk to ban stretch limos.

Last year South Norfolk Council voted to deny Lee Tutton a license for his limo on similar grounds.

They too were concerned over the age of the car and the fact that it was left hand drive, again because of safety considerations.