A BUSINESSMAN has been cleared of ignoring demands to shut down a popular hand car wash

James Pollitt, of Boars Hill, had denied a count of breaching an enforcement notice to stop all activities and knock down equipment at the Wash and Go hand car wash on Abingdon Road.

The 54-year-old had strenuously denied having any involvement in the running of the business on the site, which sits next to a Tesco Express supermarket.

He told a jury at Oxford Crown Court that he had only owned a licence to run a business there and had never been the land owner or the business owner.

His acquittal came almost three years after Oxford City Council issued an enforcement notice against the business and ordered it to close.

Mr Pollitt had blamed planning consultants for the confusion.

Earlier in the trial, he said: “I had been advised by the planning consultants that I could make a retrospective planning application.

"This has been going on for three and a half years. I was told at a site visit by a planning enforcement officer that there were special orders at that site [to develop housing].”

A former planning enforcement officer, Hannah Wiseman, told the court she had visited the site on July 16, 2014 after she was made aware by a councillor that work to develop the site was being undertaken.

She said: "On that visit I do recall there was fencing closing the site and the next time [I visited] there was a guy on the site doing something with the water pipes.

"He said: 'you need to speak to somebody called Ronnie'. I left a business card with that guy and after that happened I had a telephone conversation with Mr Pollitt."

The enforcement notice was first served on October 28, 2014 but the car wash remains at the site.

Mr Pollitt said he had struck a deal with two Albanian men to run the business in August 2014, two months before that notice was issued.

He was paid £35,000 in cash for his part and said a lack of official paperwork was because in the Albanian community ‘a verbal agreement and a handshake’ was all that was necessary to agree a deal.