Council undercuts local repairers

Garage owners in Darlington are being undercut by the local council.

Darlington Borough Council is now offering MOT and repair services at its Allington Way depot. The work is advertised on the council’s own website, quoting MOTs from £30.

It says, ‘We offer a quality service with prices starting from £30. Following the test, we will advise you of any work needed to bring your vehicle up to the required standard.

‘There is no obligation to have the vehicle repair works carried out by our technicians, however we are happy to give you a quote or you can take your vehicle elsewhere to be repaired.’

However, the move has not gone down well with local repairers. Speaking to the Northern Echo, Paul Stabler, from Stabler’s Garage, said, ‘They shouldn’t be undercutting small businesses, it’s not right. We’re trying to stand on our own two feet and we should not have to deal with competition from the council.’

Meanwhile, Martin Wilson, owner of M Wilson & Co, added, ‘It’s hard enough to make a living as it is. I’m paying my taxes to help run their business it seems. It wouldn’t be so bad if they gave businesses a helping hand but you get nothing from them.’

A council spokesperson said, ‘Government legislation permits local authorities to charge for any discretionary service, however charging is limited to cost recovery and must not make a profit.

‘The primary purpose of our fitting shop is to carry out repairs on our own fleet. With our limited spare capacity we do now offer a repairs service to the public, with any charges being used to offset the cost of the service.

‘Due to the small scale of the operation we don’t believe this will impact on local businesses.’