HEREFORDSHIRE council could be faced with a bill running into thousands of pounds after accepting responsibility for the 'maladministration' of a planning application.

A group of Ledbury residents were plagued by lorries hammering down a rural lane after an officer gave a road haulage firm the green light to operate at unsociable hours.

This was contrary to regulations laid down by Malvern Hills District Council.

The Local Government Ombudsman investigated the case and found that there had been 'serious and lasting consequences' from the officer's decision.

He concluded that Malvern Hills had been guilty of maladministration. At a special meeting of the planning committee this week, councillors heard that as the successor authority to Malvern Hills in the Ledbury area, they were responsible for the findings of the report.

They agreed to pay £250 compensation to the complainant for the trouble of making his objection and a further £750 to make up for his 'loss of amenity'. The meeting was told that the council's own investigation into the incident had 'suffered from local government reorganisation and the difficulty in accessing officers and files'.

The ombudsman had recommended that nearby residents also be given financial recompense. But the committee opted to carry out a traffic count along the road first to see is further money should be paid out.

They will also consider whether the firm in question should have a restriction order placed upon it.