IN my capacity as cabinet member responsible for Trading Standards in North Tyneside, I wish to warn consumers to be extra vigilant when contracting with traders to rectify storm damage.
The warning comes as we enter a period where uninvited, rogue traders seek to take advantage of the unsettled weather by targeting vulnerable consumers for household repairs and jobs, such as roofing work and garden clearance services.
All too often the story ends with householders being cheated out of their money and being left with an unsatisfactory job, usually requiring further remedial work.
Communities are warned to be cautious and to look out for vulnerable friends, relatives and neighbours, and to ensure that unscrupulous rogue traders are unsuccessful in taking advantage of others misfortune.
Over the past two months, Consumer Direct, the government funded advice service, has received thousands of complaints directly relating to problems relating to home improvements with roofing, insulation and guttering work being amongst the most common complaints.
Trading Standards services are committed to tackling doorstep crime and use a variety of initiatives to deal with offenders and to protect communities.
As well as prosecuting those responsible for scams, initiatives such as Cold Calling Control Zones are used to advise and protect vulnerable householders from cold-callers who are deterred from working in their area.
Typical scams include claims that tiles or chimneys are loose and dangerous, or that leaks will occur and damage properties.
Large sums of money are also charged for small amounts of gardening work, to clear away leaves, shrubs and trees following unsettled weather.
Although door-to-door canvassing is not illegal, we should be extra alert to what is happening in our communities.
By being on the look-out for people who may be offering work and services on our streets, we can stop people we know from becoming victims of rogue traders.
As a result, I would urge people not to deal with doorstep traders.
If householders wish to report doorstep callers, they should contact Consumer Direct on 08454 040506.
COUN GEORGE WESTWATER