TRADING standards is facing a shock 85 per cent funding cut from Worcestershire County Council – leading to claims “the likes of Derek Trotter” will get away with conning the public.
The service, now part of the Worcestershire Regulatory Services body, tackles poor hygiene in restaurants and takeaways, off-licenses that sell booze to children, and market traders or shops flogging counterfeit or dangerous items.
But the county council has targeted it for major cuts as part of proposals to save £98 million by 2017, and wants to reduce the £1.75 million yearly spend to just £250,000.
However, the move, which is out for public consultation, has been criticised by Councillor Richard Udall, who represents the St John’s ward.
“We are opening the county to the nation's conmen – we will see the likes of Derek Trotter on our streets openly selling counterfeit and dangerous products with nobody to stop them,” he said.
“Rogue traders will have a field day.
“Bad retailers will be able to sell alcohol and tobacco to children without any risk of prosecution and the consumers of the county will have nobody to turn to for help and advice.
“This is a real disaster waiting to happen, we need to act now to save it.
“It will be decimated by such cuts, leaving Worc-estershire residents without the basic protection they need – it will become a real paradise for conmen and rogue traders.”
Trading standards forms part of Worcestershire Regulatory Services, a publicly-funded body which gets cash from County Hall and the six district councils.
The service gets £5 million in total, of which the county council’s £1.75 million makes it by far the biggest backer.
Its activities extend as far as tackling noisy neighbours, keeping a register of small traders and awareness of doorstep crime.
It was also responsible for testing horse meat in Worcestershire earlier this year following the nationwide food scare in school meals, and looks after pest control on behalf of the public.
Trading Standards has confirmed a number of jobs will be at risk under the cuts.
A county council spokesman said: “Part of our early proposals are to reduce the cost of the trading standards function within Worcestershire Regulatory Services.
“At this early stage it includes a review of the governance and shared service model.
“It is important to say that these are early proposals at this stage and it is too soon to provide in-depth information. Decisions have yet to be made.”