Legal row over ‘spa town asset’

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BUXTON is missing out on making the most of its spa heritage, claims a businessman who is locked in a battle with High Peak Borough Council over who owns the right to use the town’s name.

Neil Scowcroft has been told he must not use the words “Buxton Spa” when promoting his hand-made perfume business by the council, which claims it owns the rights to use it.

Now he is challenging the council’s decision – and believes their policy is acting as a brake on economic development as other businesses may be put off trading on the area’s history and reputation as a spa town.

Neil opened his company Buxton Spa Aromatics, selling handmade perfumes, last year, but after having a stall at the Artists and Designers Fair in the Pavilion Gardens last April, he was approached by a council official and told the name of his business was not legal because it breached a trademark owned by the authority.

The council has paid to register trademarks for Buxton, Buxton Spa and Buxton Peak, but only for certain types of business - none of which Mr Scowcroft believes applies to his company.

But despite months of negotiations between Mr Scowcroft and the authority, a compromise has not yet been found.

And Neil is concerned that the legal wrangling he has been involved in with the council could impact on other businesses who want to use the town’s name to promote their products or services.

He said: “The idea that it (the term Buxton Spa) is locked down and monopolised to the council is just bizarre and not helping the community.

“If this happens in this instance, then why wouldn’t it happen potentially with any other business that the Borough Council decided it wants to get involved in?

“Is it right that any local council should be getting involved in directly selling products competing with other businesses in the area?”

He added: “Are we actually in danger of missing out on a fantastic opportunity here to really reinvigorate the use of the geographic name Buxton Spa and to associate it with any businesses, be it from artistic to commercial or whatever it might be so that there is a far greater benefit to the whole community.”

Ian Huddlestone, executive councillor for regeneration, said: “The council is currently disputing the use of its trade mark, ‘Buxton Spa’, with Mr Scowcroft and it would clearly be inappropriate to comment on any of those details.

“The name, Buxton Spa, is a registered trade mark belonging to the council, and the council is the custodian of it on behalf of the taxpayer of the borough.

“Use of the trade mark is controlled by the council, and the brand, Buxton Spa, generates income to offset the cost of council services that residents would otherwise have to pay for.

“Any person wanting to use the words, Buxton Spa, as part of their business or product branding should check with the council to make sure that the council is happy that such use would not infringe its trade mark. The business may have to enter into a licence agreement with the council.

“Unfortunately, Mr Scowcroft did not do this and, despite best efforts, the council has been unable to come to any agreement with him over use of the mark.”