Police crackdown on the rogue traders

PUBLISHED: 16:08 12 June 2008 | UPDATED: 13:22 06 May 2010

A COLD caller who targeted a pensioner to sell his gardening services has been prosecuted by trading standards for failing to inform her that she had cancellation rights. Shane Gentle, aged 22, from the Ver Meadows caravan site in Redbourn, acted as a rep

A COLD caller who targeted a pensioner to sell his gardening services has been prosecuted by trading standards for failing to inform her that she had cancellation rights.

Shane Gentle, aged 22, from the Ver Meadows caravan site in Redbourn, acted as a representative of Allwoods Tree and Garden Design and A1 Tree Services.

An 82-year-old woman living alone in Sandridge hired him to wash her driveway and he started work the same day without informing her in writing that she was entitled to cancel the contract.

His action contravened a law which gives customers the right to a seven-day cooling off period following an unsolicited visit - and the customer does not have to pay for the work done if no cancellation notice is given.

Gentle's victim was persuaded to pay cash for the job which rose from an initial £450 quote to £1,200 when he found extra work.

But bank staff called the police when they discovered the elderly woman was withdrawing the cash to pay a trader who had not provided paperwork.

The case was passed on to Herts Trading Standards and Gentle admitted breaching the Cancellation of Contracts Regulations at St Albans Magistrates Court on Monday.

He was fined £200 and Trading Standards were awarded £200 costs.

County Councillor Richard Smith, Executive Member for Community Safety, said: "I am delighted that the court did not regard this as simply a technical matter and took it seriously. In this case, the defendant was not intimidating and the customer was satisfied with the work he had done but cold callers are on notice that penalties are likely to be significantly higher if there are any aggravating circumstances."

n A crackdown on rogue traders operating in the district resulted in two men being arrested on fraud charges this week. Officers from Herts Police's Serious and Organised Crime Unit were joined by Herts Trading Standards and Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) on Tuesday.

The team checked properties undergoing work across St Albans and Harpenden to ensure lawful working practices were being conducted.

A number of homeowners were approached while contractors were checked out.

Two 35-year-old men from St Albans were arrested on suspicion of attempted fraud and they were both bailed by police until August.

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CountryPhile

I should probably have taken the hint! Walking out into the garden recently an unprecedented flock of thirty or more crows raucously greeted me from the treetops at the bottom of my garden. Cawing and croaking these big, black birds clung clumsily to the top most branches and twigs, jostling and flapping to stay balanced in a constant flurry of feathers. There is always something ominous about crows – they are after all carrion crows, the vultures of the bird world – always watching for scraps and weakness that might mean their next meal.

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