Local firm, Instaplanta, takes Council to competition tribunal

A local business, Instaplanta (Yorkshire) Ltd has taken Leeds City Council to the Competition Appeal Tribunal claiming the local authority is using its position to block Instaplanta’s business unfairly.

The row has been going on for years as we reported back in September 2020, the firm based in Hunslet Moor and co-run by resident Malcolm Simpson, install and maintain wooden planters with floral displays along major roads and streets; these generate income by carrying advertising boards for local businesses.

They have 200 planters around West Yorkshire, but only 20 in Leeds – because, ever since starting out in 2015, they have struggled to get permission from Leeds City Council for their planters.

Their applications have repeatedly been turned down, for a variety of reasons – but Instaplanta insist that the Council’s underlying reason is to protect their own roadside advertising income (worth £200,000 per year).

Having gone through the Council’s internal complaints processes, Malcolm Simpson says he was left with no option but pursue the matter to the Competition Appeal Tribunal, with all the legal costs of Solicitors and Barristers on both sides.
A preliminary hearing, called a Case Conference, took place in February in London. The full hearing is expected to be scheduled for the autumn.

Malcolm Simpson commented:

“It’s a shame that it’s come to this because we’ve tried to bring this to an amicable resolution. The last place we wanted this to end up in a court room. We’re both Leeds citizens, we both worked for the Council, but we had no other alternative. I just think it’s an absolute waste of taxpayers money defending this case.”

He said the Council operated one rule for Instaplanta and another for other planters. Asked if Instaplanta were prepared to settle ‘out of court’ he said:

“We’ve always been open to negotiation, if the Council want to get in touch with our legal team, we’re always there to listen.”

A spokesperson for Leeds City Council said:

“We are not in a position to comment on this matter as it is the subject of an ongoing legal process.”


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