scales of justice (pic by Citizensheep)

Trading standards officers in Crewe and Nantwich sent out a stern warning to rogue traders after prosecuting a driveways businessman.

Lee Potter, 34, of Eardswick Lane, Minshull Vernon, pleaded guilty to five offences of fraudulent trading under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations Act.

Potter was trading as Ultimate Driveways UK when he unlawfully pretended to be part of a professional guild and failed to tell customers of their right to cancel contracts within seven days.

Appearing before South and East Cheshire Magistrates’ Court in Crewe, he admitted three offences of using the logo of the ‘Guild of Master Craftsmen’ on his paperwork, website and adverts without the permission of the guild or meeting the qualifications for membership of the guild.

The court heard he misled two Cheshire East residents into thinking he was a member while doing driveway work.

He had previously been told by the Guild of Master Craftsmen to remove their logo from his business adverts.

The Guild of Master Craftsman aims to safeguard the interest of craftsmen and the public.

It also ensures the minimum qualifications for membership preserve the high standard of the guild by excluding the unskilled. They also have a conciliation service.

Potter also admitted two offences of failing to supply residents with their written rights to cancel the transaction within seven days, as required by law. The offences took place between May 2012 and October 2013.

He was prosecuted by Cheshire East Council’s trading standards investigations team.

Magistrates fined Potter £500 and ordered to pay £1,225 in court costs. He was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £50.

Cllr Les Gilbert, Cheshire East Cabinet member in charge of communities and regulatory services, said: “Prosecutions such as this send out a clear message we are an enforcing council and will take firm action to protect our residents and communities from rogue traders. Fraud will simply not be tolerated.

“It is important, for everyone’s benefit, to raise awareness of rogue trading and fraudsters.

“Our plea to the people of Cheshire East is to ‘please be very wary of cold-callers and buying on the doorstep’.

“Trading standards operates an approved trader scheme called ‘Buy With Confidence’ and our officers can provide you with details of reliable local trades people to carry out work around your home and garden.”

Look for the ‘Buy With Confidence’ logo and visit www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk or call 0300 123 5500 for more information.

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