A MAN has been fined £80 for falsely claiming to be part of a national network of approved driveway contractors.

Darlington Borough Council brought a prosecution against Shane Shipton, who traded as Darlington Driveways.

He was found guilty of trading unfairly by falsely claiming he was a Marshalls-approved contractor on his website.

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The Marshalls Register of approved landscape contractors and driveway installers is a national network of recommended professionals.

Although they are not employed by Marshalls, traders agree to abide by Marshalls’ own installation guidelines and are all vetted.

It came to Marshalls’ attention that Shipton was claiming to be part of their network when he was not. The company got in touch with the council’s trading standards team, which took the case to court.

Mr Shipton pleaded not guilty and represented himself in a Darlington Magistrates’ Court hearing that lasted two hours.

He was found guilty and ordered to pay £100 costs, along with the £80 fine.

David Jessop, operations manager at Marshalls, said: “We are delighted with this conviction and urge all potential customers to seek the details of genuine members via our website.”

Councillor Chris McEwan, cabinet member for economy and regeneration, said: “I am pleased that trading standards secured a conviction.

“This should act as a warning to rogue traders that unfair trading practices will not be tolerated.

“I would urge residents to verify any claims of trade association membership that are made by traders, directly with the trade association.”

Residents who believe that a trader is falsely claiming membership of a trade association should report it to Citizens Advice consumer service on 08454-040-506 for investigation by Trading Standards.