A CRUCIAL court battle has ended in defeat for Kirklees Council and a possible half a million pound bill for taxpayers.

At the heart of the court action was the fact that the council continued to charge for property searches for six years after EU legislation said the information should be free.

What is concerning is that the council continued to pursue the case even though the European Union’s Environmental Information Regulations were unequivocal.

Other councils have challenged the legislation and lost their cases. Last summer the Government intervened telling councils that such search charges were illegal.

Kirklees finally gave up levying the charges last August but ploughed on with its legal action. That action racked up a £23,000 legal bill and the possibility of having to pay out £500,000 in compensation.

Taxpayers will rightly question why the council has continued to fight what seems to have been an unwinnable case, risking more public money.

If councils generally feel there is an issue with this legislation, why do they not take it up on a group basis, sharing expertise and costs?

Kirklees says it is considering the full implications of this latest ruling. Hopefully that thinking will not include any further cost for local people.