Trading Standards explained

FROM explosives to internet scams, dodgy sunbeds to dangerous animals, bogus charity collectors to gambling licences, this Carmarthenshire Council department has a broad remit.

The authority’s business and consumer affairs service comprises Trading Standards, licensing and animal health teams.

Fourteen Trading Standards officers carry out inspections and respond to complaints to ensure businesses comply with the law.

In 2017/18 they undertook 579 enforcement and sampling visits, and a further 780 checks of online operations, according to a report.

Trading Standards works with social services and 11 banks and building societies to protect vulnerable people. This link-up resulted in £70,369 being returned to residents who had been targeted by scammers. Dozens of devices which block out scam phone calls have also been provided to residents, and the Trading Standards team has offered advice to 105 victims of scams who were referred to the authority by a national project.

The county now has 54 “no cold calling zones” and one “no cold calling village”, with two more zones in the process of being established.

Trading Standards dealt with 2,193 complaints and calls in 2017/18 and took action on 90 occasions where an immediate response was needed to protect the public.

The council report said continued monitoring of e-cigarettes was required to ensure that products which did not comply with legal requirements were kept away from consumers. It also said that five out of 32 sunbeds inspected by officers failed European ultraviolet standards.

The team also check on filling stations, and issued 20 licences for the storage of mixed explosives. And they have shared their financial and consumer rights knowledge with many school pupils as part of a Moneywise programme.

The eight-strong animal health, meanwhile, brought in £48,383 during 2017/18 via 158 various licences, including one dangerous wild animal licence.

The report said illegal dog breeding in Carmarthenshire was a “prominent concern” and that 15 new breeders have been identified and licensed. Officers spend a lot of time inspecting markets, abattoirs and show grounds, and made 176 enforcement visits to farms.

The team successfully prosecuted three animal cruelty cases in 2017/18, with more in the pipeline. Licensing officers are responsible for taxis and the private hire trade.

All licence applicants must complete a disclosure and barring service check, and pass relevant tests. In 2017/18 the team enforced more than 2,000 licences, and suspended 88 vehicles licences and 28 drivers.

The licensing section issues, monitors, varies and enforces 869 premises licences and 74 club premises licences. A total of 44 licence suspensions were issued in 2017/18 due to non-payment of fees.

Officers also inspect casinos, bookmakers amusement arcades, and registered 330 different lotteries as part of its 2005 Gambling Act responsibilities. In June last year the eight-strong licensing team prosecuted a bogus charity collector in military uniform, who was accompanied alongside a Shetland pony.

The report said the section was currently involved in another prosecution relating to two people dressed in festive gear. The authority’s business and consumer affairs service has a budget of around £1 million.

Councillor Philip Hughes, executive board ember for public protection, said Trading Standards was at the forefront of the battle against rogue traders, scammers and businesses which were failing their customers. “The breadth of services we provide is vast and varied, and in the challenging landscape of austerity and difficult trading conditions it is vital that we are there to offer that support and protection.

“I’d like the thank our officers and would, as always, encourage anyone who needs our advice or support to get in touch.”

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