Scammers and con artists targeting Surrey and Buckinghamshire residents face a stronger crackdown under proposals to team up the counties’ trading standards services.
For both county councils’ trading standards services are developing proposals to team up to protect the public more against consumer rip-offs, and to support local businesses.
If the plans are approved by the councils later this year, the new unit would start work in spring 2015.
The unit would share the services' expertise and intelligence on combating fraudsters, attract a bigger share of Government money for local clampdowns, have a more influential voice in the sector, and save money through smarter working and pooled resources.
It would also enhance business advice services to support growth.
Led by a project board to include senior councillors and officers from both councils, the combined trading standards service would share IT and databases, intelligence, legal expertise and resources.
A business case is being worked on, with plans set to be finalised in the summer. If the two services do merge, Surrey and Buckinghamshire trading standards will still have local bases and local campaigns, with potential scope to explore working with other councils in future.
Helyn Clack, Surrey County Council’s cabinet member for community services, said: “Our trading standards teams work tirelessly to protect residents from unscrupulous people, from tackling cold-calling to protecting mail scam victims, and to support local businesses.”
Coun Clack said: “This new initiative demonstrates how both councils are keen to find new ways of working to deliver excellent value-for-money services in difficult times.”
Martin Phillips, Buckinghamshire cabinet member for community engagement, said: “Teaming up with colleagues in Surrey would protect residents of both counties even more, giving both local teams extra expertise and capacity for major initiatives like Rogue Traders Week.” Coun Phillips added: “Not only this, it’ll make our tight budgets go further through smarter use of taxpayers’ money. It is a great example of innovation in action.”