CTSI has condemned Enfield Council’s decision to drastically pare back its Trading Standards team, which could make the borough the first in the country without a functioning Trading Standards service from autumn this year.
The decision will leave the 330,000 residents of the borough vulnerable to exploitation by scammers, rogues and unlawful business practices, with no capacity to enforce a host of laws designed to protect consumers and legitimate businesses.
The Institute has warned that the Council is “playing a very dangerous game” which could potentially lead to a judicial review and is urging those responsible to reconsider plans to cut Enfield’s Trading Standards Service from four Officers to one. The borough’s Trading Standards Manager has already resigned in protest.
Tendy Lindsay, Chair of CTSI and a resident of Enfield, said: “Last week the Prime Minister recognised the significant work that Trading Standards teams nationally are doing to tackle underage and illegal sales of vape products. This is just one example of the countless responsibilities Trading Standards teams undertake to protect consumers and uphold standards locally across the UK.
“It is shocking and completely unacceptable that Enfield Council appears to not fully appreciate the consequences of what they are about to agree. It is six years ago next week since the appalling tragedy of Grenfell, which could have been averted had necessary checks been undertaken. Local Trading Standards teams, including in Enfield, play a critical role in helping to tackle product safety issues, maintain food standards and combat illegal and unfair practices such as rogue traders, scams and doorstep crime.”
Last year, Enfield Trading Standards seized more than 28,000 packets of smuggled cigarettes, 14.5kg of smuggled tobacco and 1,300 vapes. The service handled more than 1,200 complaints and enquiries from businesses and residents, including investigating more than 20 incidents involving rogue roofers and builders.
There is now concern that priorities such as combating the under-age supply and sale of illicit vapes and protecting consumers from poor quality and unsafe products could be jeopardised.
Lindsay added: “If Enfield Council goes ahead with these cuts, then we are deeply concerned that this will send a signal to unscrupulous traders and criminal elements that the residents of Enfield are fair game for exploitation. We would urge the Council to reconsider this measure in the interests of their local residents’ safety and wellbeing.”
Enfield Council published its draft Council Plan (2023-26) in February and made a commitment to ‘strong, safe and healthy communities’. This included a commitment to tackling crime and anti-social behaviour. Trading Standards would play a key role in supporting this strategy, with responsibilities to enforce more than 290 pieces of legislation.
In the same week that the cuts were announced, the Enfield Trading Standards team successfully prosecuted a local business for supplying unsafe Christmas tree lights; the company was fined £40,000 and ordered to pay court costs.