Liverpool City Council is facing a potential judicial review challenge to cuts it is making to its trading standards service.
The claimant, a local resident and member of the Trading Standards Institute, is reported to be claiming that the authority can no longer meet its statutory obligations.
The TSI confirmed to Local Government Lawyer that it had provided evidence as part of the proceedings.
Leon Livermore, the TSI’s chief executive, said: ““We are aware of a legal challenge to cuts in Liverpool from a local resident, who is a member of the Trading Standards Institute, and we have been asked to provide support. We have given evidence to help the court understand what a minimum trading standards service looks like. We await the outcome of the case with interest.”
Livermore argued that “continued savage cuts” to trading standards services were seriously undermining their ability to protect citizens.
“There are some 50% less front line officers now compared to 2010 and this is only going to get worse,” he pointed out.
“This is inevitably leading to a significant decrease on work done to combat for example scams and unsafe products, leaving the most vulnerable in our society to pay the price of the cuts. It is a false economy and will lead to councils and other agencies to pick up the pieces at great cost.
“One of the more worrying aspects of these cuts is that citizens rarely have the full picture about the impact reduced services will have in their daily lives, and only find out too late when the support they have come to expect is no longer there."
A spokesman for Liverpool said the council was aware that an application had been made but it had no further information about it.
He added: “A review has taken place of the council’s regulatory functions – trading standards, licensing and environmental health – against a background of the council having to make £156m of cuts over the next three years. The number of trading standards staff has been reduced from 17 to nine. However, previously four members of staff dealt with consumer advice issues which are now handled, in line with government guidelines, by the CAB.
“We are dealing with our regulatory service in a different way to cut down on red tape and reduce the burden on business. So, instead of different officers calling on premises to deal with licensing and trading standards issues, one officer will deal with both. This does not, however, mean that we are not dealing with traditional trading standards functions. We are still committed to tackling rogue traders, doorstep crime etc. It is simply not true that we will neglect these areas and, despite the current financial constraints, believe we have sufficient staff to provide a satisfactory service and we are confident that we will continue to meet our legal requirements.”