Residents are being offered additional protection from rogue traders and unwanted callers who pay unsolicited visits to their homes via proposed new Cold Calling Control Zones.
Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Trading Standards officers and neighbourhood officers from South Wales Police have joined forces to begin consultation with residents about the possibility of establishing the zones in a number of pilot areas.
Letters have already been sent to homes in Caemawr Gardens, Porth, Underhill Drive, Tonteg and areas of Llantrisant asking residents for their views on the creation of the zones.
If supported by residents and adopted, the zones would operate on a pilot basis and will see signage in homes and on street furniture warning unwanted callers, tradespeople and sales people that they are not welcome.
Cllr Paul Cannon, Deputy Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf and Cabinet Member with responsibility for Economic Development and Community Safety, said: “Chief Inspector John Wainwright said: “I am confident that the wider community will support this campaign which is intended to protect and reassure some of the most vulnerable members of our community.
“Whilst some cold callers are carrying out legitimate business, unfortunately there are some whose intention is to deceive and exploit peoples’ vulnerability. This kind of crime is particularly unpleasant and can cause great anguish and distress not just to the victims but also to their families, especially as it damages their confidence and sense of security within their own homes.
“Those who commit these crimes are prepared to stoop very low so it is vital that we use all the legislation available to us to make life difficult for the perpetrators. I would therefore encourage anyone who thinks they, or their neighbours or loved ones, would benefit from this scheme to express their views as part of the consultation process that is now being carried out by Rhondda Cynon Taf Council and South Wales Police.”
Controlled Cold Calling Zones are identified based on residents’ feedback and the number of incidents and reports. Once established, packs are sent to every resident, including signage that can be displayed on homes, on lampposts and also information on how to report a breach of the zone.
If a trader cold calls in the areas, it is hoped residents will inform them they are in a Controlled Cold Calling Zone and then inform Trading Standards and policy officers, generating a rapid, joint response.
While it is not an offence to enter a Controlled Cold Calling Zone, the residents have, via consultation, made it clear they do not want cold callers in their area. If a trader continues to knock on the door of a property displaying a sticker, then they are ignoring the residents’ request to leave and not return, thereby committing an offence under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations, 2008.
All of the areas being considered for the pilot Cold Calling Zones have, unfortunately, experienced higher-than-average levels of complaints and incidents involving rogue and unscrupulous traders and callers. Some of those living in the areas have been targeted more than once.
As well as letters to homes, officers involved in the ambitious scheme are also on hand to speak to residents via email, telephone or face-to-face and will be attending PACT meetings to explain.
Consultation ends on January 31 and all those who have been sent a letter were also given a pre-paid envelope so they could return their surveys with ease. If agreed, the zones will be formed from March onwards.