Businessman has driving ban overturned

A LANCASTER property developer has succeeded in his appeal against a six-month driving ban – after pleading financial hardship because of the economic crisis.

Chris Tudor Whelan, of Cantsfield, told Lancaster Crown Court he needed his car to get to meetings with bankers and could not afford to employ a chauffeur.

The ban was imposed last month by magistrates after Tudor Whelan twice failed to respond to police letters asking him to identify the driver of an Audi flashed by a speed camera after reaching 37mph in a 30mph zone on January 17.

Tudor Whelan, 56, the car's owner, had said he could not remember whether he or his wife had been driving the vehicle along the A638 Melling Road near Hornby.

At his appeal against the ban, he told the court how the credit crunch had hit Tudor Whelan Property Holdings, the firm behind the Knight's Bridge apartments development in Lancaster and owner of the former Warehouse nightclub, which is now up for sale.

"We're going through a torrid time like a lot of property-related businesses at the moment," he said. "It's very difficult keeping one's head above the water.

"I'm at various meetings with bankers and legal advisors trying to restructure and get the business surviving basically. Without my licence it's proving very difficult."

The six points imposed for the offence had taken the number on Tudor Whelan's licence to 12, triggering the ban. But the court also heard that the letter he had been sent by the police had only warned that three points could be imposed.

An appeal against conviction was suggested on that basis, but Tudor Whelan, who has already served nearly three weeks of the ban, opted to proceed with the appeal against sentence.

Miss Lisa Judge, defending, suggested the ban might be reduced to three days a week. But Judge, Mr Roger Farley, decided to quash it altogether. Tudor Whelan will now apply to recover the costs associated with the application.

* In 2006 Mr Tudor Whelan was paid more than 50,000 for the Roman gravestone which went on show to the public this week.