A couple fear they could lose their business with the climax this week of a 40-year legal battle against their local council.

Colin Young took over the running of his family's builders' merchants firm in the leafy village of Corley, Warwickshire, in 1966.

But North Warwickshire Borough Council has been trying to close it down ever since because he never had planning permission to sell to the public on the green belt site.

"It's crazy," said said 67 year-old Mr Young.

"We have hundreds of customers who prefer to come to us for building materials rather than the big chains. They will lose out if we are forced to close."

Colin took over the running of the family farm and merchants, CW Young, at the age of just 14 after his father died.

Problems began in 1966 when the now-defunct Meriden District Council investigated complaints from neighbours about noisy lorries visiting the site to pick up building supplies.

The case dragged on for years because of appeals and was eventually passed on to the current council. It issued enforcement notices in 1987 and 1988 to block the sale of goods and storing of materials on the site because of the green belt issue.

Over the years Mr Young and his wife Diane have spent more than £30,000 in a long-running legal battle to keep the company open.

The fate of the business is expected to be decided by Rugby magistrates on Thursday.

The Youngs will argue that they have the right to continue trading after running a business on the site for so long.

Mrs Young, aged 62, said: "We don't know why the council doesn't let us continue with our livelihood.

"We've been here so long, you would think that they would leave us alone.

"There are so many things that we wanted to do, but the whole battle with the council has held us back. We feel that we are being victimised by the council."

A North Warwickshire Borough Council spokeswoman said: "CW Young spent several years trying to get planning permission and appealing against notices served on it by the council. The planning inspectorate has also supported the council's decision and all of CW Young's appeals have been dismissed.

"Because this has run on for so long, the next step for the council is court action." Colin and Diane Young at the builders' yard in Corley