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Walsall Council Regulatory Services update

  • 21 April 2020
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Over recent weeks Walsall Council’s Environmental Health team have kept a close watch on local businesses for any signs of illegal activity during lockdown.  Our Trading Standards officers have also been working hard dealing with isues as far ranging as price hiking, product safety, counterfeiting, scams, or rogue trading, but fortunately weren’t needed over during the bank holiday.

In late March, the government had issued regulations setting out the types of business that can open or trade during the coronavirus restrictions. They also issued guidance over how business should require staff to social distance.  Over the recent Easter Bank Holiday weekend, the two Services worked in shifts to monitor complaints with environmental health liaising with Police colleagues over potential illegal activity at businesses carrying out 15 interventions, or monitoring visits.

Environmental Health and Trading Standards are grateful to all those supporting them in their efforts to help prevent the spread of COVID 19 in the borough by alerting the teams to potential breaches of the new legislation and guidance.

The main concerns raised so far are around pubs allegedly having ‘lock – ins’ but also vape shops, gyms, barbers shops and other retail premises staying open but behind closed doors. Regulatory Services are generally reassured that the vast majority of businesses are behaving appropriately and those that do remain open - are maintaining social distancing rules.  

Since government implemented the business restrictions, 91 businesses have been reported to Environmental Health and either visited, written to or telephoned to ensure they are aware of their responsibilities. To date only one premises has had to have formal action in the form of a Prohibition or ‘Closure’ Notice taken against it for continuing to trade, despite warnings and around 30 are being monitored or engaged with, to ensure compliance.

Councillor Garry Perry portfolio holder for regulatory services at Walsall council said: “In the early days of the lockdown we logged 70 complaints around businesses opening unlawfully and other businesses stock piling and increasing prices on goods and I’m pleased to say that reports of this type of sharp practice and unlawful opening have reduced.”

“Those shops we received complaints about were visited by us, or were written to and informed of the potential penalties for carrying out unlawful activity  such as ‘price-hiking.’ As people and businesses have got used to the lock down, those who thought they’d make fast gains realised that consumers have long memories and that the bad publicity of short term illegal openings, or over pricing will harm their trade in the longer term.”

He added, “It’s very encouraging that so many businesses are helping us in the fight against COVID 19 and so few have breached the current advice.

"On another positive note Trading Standards and Environmental Health are also working with many local businesses that have offered their services to either set up or help with the bottling and distribution of hand sanitisers, and home deliveries of food - and have also asked for our guidance around compliance with social distancing, labelling and safety rules.

"Well done that’s the business and community spirit that we all recognise and applaud!”

Notes to editor

  • The coronavirus lockdown has also seen a major increase in scams around the country particular by email; and text
  • Trading Standards @savvyshopper6 twitter account has been busy notifying people of these scams and trying to raise the public profile of the scams wherever possible.

-ENDS-

 

 

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WALSALL WEATHER
Walsall, UK

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