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'We don't get a lot of nuisance callers here ... sometimes you welcome the company' Unexpected response to stopping cold callers leads to helping elderly pledge.

Byline: Neil McKay

CONSUMER watchdogs assumed people living in a quiet street would welcome a ban on nuisance callers offering to sell them overpriced fish or tarmac their drive.

But some elderly residents living in Golden Acres, Shotley Bridge, County Durham, complained that without the sellers knocking on their door, they would have no visitors.

Now local county councillor Stephen Robinson has pledged to make sure residents don't go without company after yesterday helping to launch a Cold Calling Awareness Zone with police and trading standards officers.

Coun Robinson said: "Golden Acres is a lovely self-enclosed street, but some residents had been complaining about nuisance callers.

"There have been instances in the area of fish sellers preying on elderly people, selling their stock at exorbitant prices.

"They take advantage of their trusting nature." But the councillor added: "When I visited Golden Acres to canvass residents' views on trying to impose a ban on cold callers, I was taken aback to find some said they were the only visitors they got.

"This is something I will be taking up with the county council's local area action partnership and also with local churches, to try and make sure elderly people living on their own get more visitors.

"I will be popping around myself to visit them more often."

Yesterday, the Cold Calling Awareness Zone was launched in Golden Acres by Coun Robinson, local police and by Alison Jude, consumer protection officer at Durham County Council.

Ms Jude said: "We are keen to help residents take control of dealing with unwanted callers at the door.

"Where traders are found to be breaking the law, this will be taken up with them.

"We have established 20 such zones across the county, but it is sadly true that some residents get so few visitors that they are more likely to welcome with open arms people whose intentions are unfortunately not always honourable."

Pensioner Gwen Londsdale, of Golden Acres, said: "It is true we don't get many visitors around here, and I told Stephen that when he asked about stopping cold callers.

"It would be nice to get more company, but you do worry who you open the front door to these days.

"Those Jehovah's Witnesses are very nice, even though I am Church of England."

Her neighbour Ken Hawksby said: "We don't get a lot of nuisance callers around here, sometimes you welcome the company. "But anything that discourages people up to no good has to be a good thing."

Residents were given an information pack explaining how the scheme works, and a sticker for their door informing callers that they are not welcome.

Signs will also be placed on lampposts in the area.

A booklet has been produced by the Office of Fair Trading entitled "Buying on The Doorstep, protecting people you care about from rogue doorstep traders".

People in County Durham can get a copy by contacting Trading Standards on 03000 261 016.

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GOOD TO TALK Dennis Nixon speaks with County Councillor Stephen Robinson about cold callers
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jul 4, 2012
Words:506
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