'˜Unfair, unreasonable and uninformed' county council cuts will harm Northamptonshire, says trading standards veteran
A county council plan to cut Â£600,000 from the trading standards department in Northamptonshire will 'only benefit scammers and rogue traders', a former head of staff has warned.
Bryan Lewin, who worked in the county’s trading standards team for 44 years, has labelled the council’s proposals “unfair, unreasonable and uninformed” and says they will hurt customers in the long run.
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It comes after the council announced it planned to axe £9.6m of public services in the county by next year in a bid to balance the books.
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It includes taking £600,000 from trading standards by making 16 members of staff redundant, meaning the team will lose almost half its workforce.
Mr lewin said: “There’s absolutely no way that trading standards can maintain an effective service on those numbers.
“It means they will stop policing some areas or dilute the other services.
“I don’t think the proposals are fair, reasonable or well-informed.
“It seems like an arbitrary figure that has been chosen at random and will leave the service to work with what’s left.”
Mr Lewin worked for the county council for 44 years and worked his way up to chairman of trading standards.
He was made an MBE for services to customers and businesses in Northamptonshire after retiring nine years ago.
Now he fears the council’s proposed cuts will only cost the county and its residents even more in the long term.
It comes after the trading standards team last week helped convict four rogue traders who together conned an 82-year-old Northampton man out of all his life savings through fraudulent roof repairs.
He said: “No-one will benefit from these cuts except scammers and rogue traders.
“Consumers are going to lose the protection of effective enforcement and will be exposed to buying unsafe goods.
“Some scams are particularly nasty. They prey on elderly people. These are villains who are driving elderly people to their bank to empty their accounts.
“Reputable traders are also losing out because they are up against people who break the law.
“It doesn’t seem like a well-thought-out proposal.
“We have new legislation on its way next year, for anything from the sale of corrosive substances to dealing with rogue landlords. And there won’t be anyone to enforce it.”
“They are just proposals at the moment. If they go ahead, some very hard decisions will have to be made, and we’ll see a massive reduction in policing these areas.”
Alongside trading standards, other public services hit by cuts include a plan to close 28 Northamptonshire libraries.
A petition has been set up calling on the council to maintain trading standards funding at its current level.