Trading standards take "cold callers" to court over unauthorised TPO work

Father-and-son doorstep traders who carried out unauthorised work on protected trees in a south Devon village have been ordered to pay £1,200 in fines and costs.

Kingskerswell - image: Derek Harper (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Kingskerswell - image: Derek Harper (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Christopher and Daniel Hughes of Sowton near Exeter were sentenced at Exeter Magistrates Court on Monday 4 February in a prosecution brought by Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards Service.

Both pleaded guilty to offences relating to carrying out work on protected trees, for which they failed to give any paperwork or cancellation rights to their elderly customer.

Cold-calling the victim at her home in Kingskerswell, they told her that her oak trees needed cutting back. The victim said the trees were subject to a Tree Preservation Order, but the two persuaded her that they could still carry out the work, which they commenced immediately.

Both men had previously been advised by trading standards more than once that they needed to provide paperwork when carrying out such work, and had received guidance to help them to comply with their legal requirements. Despite this, they continued to cold-call customers and carry out work without paperwork.

Both pleaded guilty to one offence under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, in relation to removing branches from protected trees. They also pleaded guilty to one offence under the Fraud Act 2006, for dishonestly failing to disclose information that they were under a legal duty to give.

The two were each told to pay £200 for each offence, and costs of £200 each.

Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards group manager for intelligence and investigations Sharon Anderson told residents that before authorising such work, "we recommend getting a range of quotes, and checking their references and credentials, including whether they are members of a legitimate trader approval scheme, such as Buy With Confidence".

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