A FRUIT and veg seller is facing a bill of more than £1,400 after being found guilty of illegal street trading in Bishop Auckland.

Durham County Council received a report in March last year that Andrew William Ferguson had set up a stall in an alleyway between Newgate Street and Kingsway.

Ferguson, from Cockfield, was told by an officer that street trading was prohibited on Newgate Street and within the area surrounding it, including the alleyway in which he was operating.

Officers from the authority’s licensing team paid a second visit to the site later in the day and found that Ferguson had not moved.

The 52-year-old claimed that the area was unadopted land and he had a legal right to trade there. He also stated that he had no intention of removing or moving the stall.

Officers reminded him that he had been warned previously about street trading following a similar incident in 2016.

Pleading not guilty at Peterlee Magistrates Court, Ferguson accepted making sales but said he should have been notified earlier.

Magistrates found Ferguson, of Victoria Terrace, guilty of trading on and around a prohibited street, fining him £450 and ordering him to pay £926 in costs and a £45 victim surcharge.

Owen Cleugh, the council’s consumer protection manager, said: “Prosecution is a serious step and one we only take when we have considered all other options. In this case, we were left with little alternative. Mr Ferguson was adamant that he was doing no wrong and did not heed the advice of the council.”