SPORTS Direct has been fined £10,000 for continuing to display a large illuminated sign without permission at its Worcester store.
Worcester City Council first prosecuted Sportsdirect.com Retail Limited in May for displaying the sign at their St Martin’s Quarter branch without having the appropriate advertising consent.
At that time, Worcester Magistrates ordered the company, which pleaded guilty, to pay a total of £1,865.
At today’s (Thursday) hearing Worcester Magistrates heard that the company’s failure to remove the sign constituted a continuing offence under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, with the court having the power to impose a charge of 10 per cent of the maximum fine for such an offence for each day since the original conviction.
Charlotte Pidgeon, Legal Assistant at Worcester City Council, said: “By not removing the sign Sports Direct have shown a blatant disregard for the conviction handed down to them in May. They ignored the decision of the court.
“The sign has a clear detrimental visual impact on the local area – it’s large, high and bright enough to be clearly visible from vantage points within the Historic City and Lowesmoor conservation areas.
“The scale of the fine in this second prosecution sends a clear message to businesses that if they continue to offend, the Council will continue to take action.”
At today’s hearing, Sports Direct pleaded guilty, but the company’s barrister told magistrates that an application for a replacement sign had now been approved.
The offending sign is 7.3 metres high (measured from ground level), includes letters which are 1.2 meters high and is fully illuminated. It is now due to be replaced by a new sign with smaller letters which are individually illuminated.
The barrister claimed the new sign would be in place on Tuesday, July 26.
However, the City Council told the court that the company was fully aware after May’s hearing that the sign was illegal, but had made no effort since then to either remove or cover it.
Magistrates ruled the application for the new sign had no bearing on the fact that Sports Direct had still not removed the current sign, which they knew to be illegal.
Magistrates fined Sportsdirect.com Retail Limited £10,000, noting that the fine would have been higher had the company not pleaded guilty.
The company was also ordered to pay £165 towards the Council’s costs within 14 days.