Sending a message to rogue traders

John Holdich
John Holdich

Last week saw the sentencing of seven people from a Peterborough-based furniture company who used aggressive and misleading sales techniques on vulnerable and elderly customers.

Some of the stories from victims of Life Comfort Products Limited were utterly heartbreaking, with many coming from concerned family members after relatives with Dementia or Alzheimer’s were targeted in their own homes, writes Peterborough City Council leader cllr John Holdich.

Our dedicated Trading Standards team noticed that complaints about the company had been made to Citizen’s Advice and then carried out an extremely thorough investigation.

They executed a warrant at the company’s head office and seized scripts and training materials that encouraged hostile sales tactics.

They also identified whistleblowers who helped them understand how the company operated and the methods they used. The evidence compiled was so conclusive that those brought before the courts entered guilty pleas and four of them received jail sentences, reflecting the severity of their crimes.

The case has generated a lot of prominent media attention, with coverage in the national and local press, which is just reward for the team’s hard graft, so I would like to say a big well done to everyone involved. I hope that this case sends out a strong warning to other companies who think they can get away with targeting vulnerable and elderly people for financial gain.

It’s pleasing to hear that construction work on the new road junction in Bourges Boulevard is progressing well and on schedule to be completed later this summer.

Once finished, the junction will make it easier for motorists to enter and exit the Network Rail car park near the station, which is heavily-used by train passengers.

A new phase of work has now started on the central reservation area, with the lane closures changing from being Monday to Friday to a permanent operation.

This phase will take five weeks and the changes have been made to ensure the safety of pedestrians and the workforce.

There is no change in the amount of access through Bourges Boulevard, but the lane closures are now more confined to the area approaching the Crescent Bridge roundabout, which should mean that congestion that has been occurring at the Rivergate roundabout will be eased.

As ever with any roadworks along a main route, we ask motorists to be patient whilst this is carried out as it’s a case of short-term pain for long-term gain.

Peterborough Market is going from strength to strength right now, with five new traders having taken up the offer of a free stall this month.

The new traders bring even more diversity, with their products and services including band merchandise, ironing and steam cleaning, artisan foods, specialist cakes and vintage furniture.

If you’ve not been down there lately then it’s well worth taking a look around.

The market offers a 3m by 3m retail space from just £100 per week. Stallholders benefit from a full marketing strategy, website and Facebook page driven by Peterborough City Council, promoting traders’ special offers and promotions.

For more information call the City Market office on 01733 454454 or email market@peterborough.gov.uk.

Alternatively visit www.peterborough.gov.uk/citymarket or www.peterborough-market.org

On Tuesday I attended a special event at Nene Park Academy to celebrate the topping out of the school’s new extension.

This impressive facility will enable the school to significantly increase its pupil numbers from next year in light of rising applications - a trend which we expect to continue across the city in coming years.

We have been planning for this by working with existing schools to increase their capacity, so as well as Nene Park, Ormiston Bushfield Academy and Jack Hunt School also have building works which are due to be completed this summer.

Finally, I’d like to highlight this year’s Pride In Our Carers Awards which is being held by the Carers Trust.

Nominations are now open for this, with the awards ceremony held at the Kingsgate Centre in Peterborough on June 13 during National Carers Week.

The awards are open to carers of all ages who have contributed to supporting others in their community and made a difference to someone else’s life.

To find out more about the awards and how to enter visit www.carerstrustcpn.org/pioc-2018