Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Trading Standards staff appeal directly to Councillors

The Labour Council's plans for cuts in public services tonight received damning criticism from an unexpected source: Council employees themselves. All Councillors and senior officers have received an email from "Trading Standards Staff" appealing to Councillors to vote against the budget proposal to abolish the civil advice function of the Trading Standards Department. The abolition of this service will mean two Trading Standards officer posts will be lost.
In its budget proposals, the Labour party states that consumers will be able to use Consumer Direct for advice. In a supporting document, the "Trading Standards Staff" show how inadequate Consumer Direct advice has been in case studies and that Trading Standards are able to intervene on behalf of consumers in disputes with retailers and tradesmen, something which Consumer Direct cannot do.
The actions of "Trading Standards Staff" in going public with their opposition to Council cuts shows that all is not well within the Council. There is rebellion afoot. Let's see what tomorrow's Echo makes of this.

Here is the "Trading Standards Staff" summary document, defending their service:

SAVE CIVIL ADVICE

There is no need for the people of Darlington to lose this valuable service.


DARLINGTON TRADING STANDARDS CIVIL ADVICE SERVICE


- is a FRONT LINE service and has successfully operated in Darlington for over 30 years. including offering advice and assistance by TELEPHONE, E-MAIL and a dedicated DUTY OFFICER to handle all walk in complaints

- does CASEWORK - intervenes to SUPPORT, ADVISE and RESOLVE civil problems, reducing consumer detriment, making Darlington a fair town for consumers and traders.

- is important for SOCIAL INCLUSION. We provide help to sections of the community such as the aged, financially disadvantaged, physically disabled, mentally disabled, partially sighted etc; who would be unlikely to call Consumer Direct - no other organisation provides this service in Darlington. Without Consumer Advice these people have nowhere else to go

- had the second highest CUSTOMER SATISFACTION rating of all Unitary Authorities in 2006/7

- staff carry out ENFORCEMENT duties, UNDERAGE SALES projects etc.

ENFORCEMENT work will be COMPROMISED by the loss of the advice service

NEW LEGISLATION commencing April 2008 requires additional civil resources for injunctive action against rogue traders, particularly those who prey on the elderly and vulnerable.

Efficiency savings can be made AND the service can be kept intact, by making changes to non-front line provision within public protection. The modest saving made by cutting this service is disproportionate to the loss of this valuable service.

CONSUMER DIRECT

- is a CALL CENTRE, which after 2010 could be located anywhere in Europe

- IS NOT AN ALTERNATIVE to Trading Standards Consumer Advice - it provides only limited initial advice and does not provide the necessary level of advice or assistance to those who need it most.

- DOES NOT PROVIDE HELP to those who can’t cope with call centres or have access to the internet.

- is REMOTE – it does not provide face-to-face advice, it does not check paperwork and contracts, it does no investigation or negotiation

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mike

I have posted the following on Nick Wallis' blog site.

Alan Macnab writes....

I am seriously concerned about the proposed reduction of staffing in the Trading Standards Department which is contained in the budget document.

The results of these proposals if they are implemented will be that rogue traders will proliferate preying on the elderly and vulnerable in particular. Do you want that? I do not.

Trading Standards enforce the law relating to sales of alcohol to underage drinkers something which is close to my heart as a parent. We have had two fatalities on the railway through underage drinking we do not want any more.

Are you seriously suggesting these valuable services can be taken over by a call centre miles from Darlington? Your response would be very welcome.

I think you'll know who... said...

Are you sure you're fit to be a councillor posting this on your blog? I think you're loosing the plot!

Mike Barker said...

Do you think that the hard-working staff at DBC do not deserve my support, Tina?
Through my business I have had frequent contact with both the Environmental Health and Trading Standards Departments and, in my experience, both provide a top class service to the people of Darlington.
They need all the support they can get to preserve their jobs and, by publicising their case to the hundreds of people who log on here each week, I hope I can help their cause.

I think you'll know who... said...

In one breath, after you've spat your dummy out, you're slagging the council off because you can't get your way and in another your there to help their cause. Away Mike... pull the other one, it's got bells on. We all know your only ambition is to make the labour lot look like the bad guys - if it were lib-dems running the show (heaven help us) you would have never posted that. Street Scene's sick to the teeth of sweeping up all those dummies out side your place!

Mike Barker said...

Ah, Tina, as eloquent as ever.
One of the roles of opposition councillors is to do just that - oppose. I do oppose much of what the Labour Party has done in this town - and country, for that matter. That's one reason why I'm a political activist in the Lib Dems. An active opposition is essential in a healthy democracy.
But opposition to the political leadership of the Council does not mean that I am "slagging off" the Council, nor does it mean I do not support the staff who work for the Council. I support the work done by Trading Standards and Environmental Health, but I oppose ("slag off", in your vernacular) the political leadership of the Council. As a perceptive and intelligent person, I'm sure you can appreciate the difference.
If the Lib Dems were running the show I would not have had to post that because we would not have mishandled the finances of the ouncil in the way Labour has.