Chairman of Cheshire community development committee Cllr Larry Toale said: 'The results gave no suggestion of any improvement and we decided something had to be done to help motorists. These poor findings came despite the fact that, each year, garage owners were informed of our plans for random checks on the quality and pricing of their servicing and repairs.
'Once it became clear that our warnings were not being heeded, the county council resolved to work with the Retail Motor Industry Federation, the AA and RAC to improve standards by creating a scheme that guarantees we will audit the work and publicise the results.'
Approved workshops will be awarded 'golden spanner' status. This will show customers that the garage has invested in training and equipment needed for RMI, AA or RAC approval and has demonstrated a commitment to fair and honest dealing in partnership with the council's Trading Standards department.
The first garage to be given approval was the Blue Bell in Wilmslow, which is owned by RMI president Sue Brownson. Just 12 of Cheshire's 400 garages are expected to merit a golden spanner in the first year. They will need to be registered with the RMI, AA or RAC, and will have their premises audited by Trading Standards experts, who guarantee to check successful applicants at least once a year, in some cases using a rogue vehicle.