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Council to target doorstep conmen in trading standards crackdown in Hartlepool

Hartlepool Civic Centre.
Hartlepool Civic Centre.

Cracking down on scams, cons and rogue traders look set to be among the top priorities for council bosses for the coming year.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s Regeneration Services Committee is set to discuss the Trading Standards Service Plan for the area for 2018/19.

The proposed plan has listed tackling rogue traders, scams and cons as ‘high priority’ issues for the coming year, citing how they often impact the ‘vulnerable and elderly’ especially.

The third ‘high priority’ issue for the year is to be product safety and ensuring all products bought by customers meet safety standards.

A report from Tony Hanson, assistant director for environment and neighbourhood services on the council, noted why rogue traders and preventing scams were high on its agenda.

It said: “Doorstep crime, cowboy builders and other types of scam can cost local residents hundreds or even thousands of pounds.

“Unscrupulous traders routinely prey on the vulnerable and elderly by taking advantage of their goodwill.

“Most people regularly receive unsolicited letters or emails offering services that are ‘too good to be true’.

“Sadly, on some occasions, consumers are drawn into these scams.

“Trading Standards aims to identify common scams and notify consumers through press releases and other mass media.

“Trading Standards work closely with a number of agencies to help protect the vulnerable from this type of crime.”

The council has also listed three ‘medium priority’ targets in its proposed trading standards plan for the coming year.

These include tackling underage sales, counterfeiting and illicit tobacco and false descriptions of products.

Three ‘low priority’ issues have also been laid out in the proposals: loan sharks, misleading pricing and products sold by weights and measures.

Trading Standards is also proposing to continuing to promote ‘No Cold Call Zones’ as a means of reducing the number of traders visiting people on their doorsteps, especially the elderly.

Since 2016, the number of zones has increased from 7 to 36 and almost 8,000 ‘Say No to Doorstep Traders’ stickers have been issued, free of charge, to local residents.

The council’s proposed plan for the year has also evolved to cover online shopping stating it must now monitor the ‘virtual High Street and ensure that consumers remain protected’.

There is also a greater focus on cracking down on the issue on social media which has become ‘a significant source of illegal goods.’

The Regeneration Service Committee is expected to approve the plan for the next year and its next meeting.

The meeting will take place at the Civic Centre in Hartlepool on Monday, September 24, from 2pm.

Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service