A JUDGE has been left "speechless" after hearing about a costly long-running dispute over a 10p parking ticket.

Ex-Royal Marine Nick Newby is fighting Kirklees Council after getting a summons for not paying the paltry sum in February last year.

Battling Nick, who is defending himself, has already attended six hearings which have racked up more than £2,500 in legal costs for the taxpayers.

In a bizarre twist, the latest hearing at Leeds Crown Court heard that the former pay and display site in Mirfield was now a free parking zone.

Nick, 45, of Gomersal, was originally fined £50 and ordered to pay £250 towards costs incurred by the council in bringing the case for non-payment.

Defiant Nick has appealed against his conviction claiming he did not buy a 10p ticket to park because the pay and display signs were not visible to motorists.

He was slapped with a £30 fine which rose to £50 when he refused to pay.

As costs began to mount, Nick launched his appeal at the High Court in Leeds against his conviction.

His case has now been shunted back until later in the year as lawyers studied legal books regarding parking laws.

But Judge Rodney Grant, who will hear the appeal later this year, expressed his astonishment after being told by the council's barrister that the car park was now a free site saying: "I am speechless."

Legal discussion - which lasted a whole day, adding to the court costs - left the judge with no time to hear the appeal and he had no option but to abandon the hearing until a later date.

A council spokesman said: "The comments of the judge have been noted and a discussion will now take place to decide how best to move forward."

Car parking revenues earn Kirklees Council about £4.5m per year.

The council is understood to be troubled by the judge's comments.

It has the option to drop the case. However, they fear this would open up the possibility of other people challenging not just parking fines, but a range of fixed penalty notices like dog fouling and dropping litter.