A MAN who operated as a scrap metal dealer for two years without a licence has been fined by magistrates.

Paul Norman Beal was interviewed by enforcement officers from Durham County Council after they received a tip-off about his activities.

The 39-year-old, from St Cuthbert’s Way, Bishop Auckland, told the officers that he collected vehicles and other items to sell on or trade in as scrap.

He admitted not having a scrap metal dealer or waste carrier’s licence, claiming that he was not aware that he needed the documents in order to operate his business within the law. He also admitted having weighed in scrap at a number of different sites over the two-year period during which he had run the business.

Checks showed that Beal had weighed in scrap at a dealer in Wingate on April 23 and June 7 last year.

Beal did not attend Newton Aycliffe Magistrate’s Court but entered a guilty plea through his solicitor.

He was fined £325 and ordered to pay £130 in costs and a £32 victim surcharge.

Owen Cleugh, Durham County Council’s public protection manager, said: “It is criminal offence to operate a business such as this without the correct licences and ignorance of the law is not an adequate defence.

“In partnership with the police, we carry out regular checks on drivers carrying scrap metal and will not hesitate to take legal action against those who are operating illegally.”