TUV leader Jim Allister has questioned why in the last year there has not been a single Inspection by Trading Standards Service of DETI in the Ballymena area in respect of the sale of illegally imported cigarettes.
Following the recent exposure of such sales by a retail outlet in Harryville, Jim Allister asked the DETI minister to detail the number of inspections there had been in Ballymena by Trading Standards in the past year. The answer to his Assembly Question reveals the answer is none!
Commenting the local TUV MLA said he was disappointed and surprised by such inactivity. “Little wonder sales of illegally imported cigarettes is happening if it is unchecked by even a single inspection by Trading Standards. This strikes me as a grave dereliction by DETI and its Trading Standards Service.
“We have the largest tobacco company in Northern Ireland situated at Galgorm, JTI, yet, within the local area there are no checks being carried out to protect legitimate trade and manufacturing from the undercutting of the smuggling trade. It should be Trading Standards, not a newspaper, which is unearthing what apparently has been going on.
“Trading Standards need to up their game. I trust they will now do so.”
The following is the Assembly Question and Answer:
To ask the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment what role Trading Standards’ officials have in visiting and inspecting tobacconists for illegally imported cigarettes and to detail the inspections have been carried out in Ballymena in the last year.
Trading Standards Service (TSS) has Service Level agreements with PSNI and HMRC. The agreements allow for the exchange of information on matters of joint interest and for the agreement on which organisation will take the lead role. In relation to illegally imported cigarettes, Trading Standards Service enforces the Trade Marks Act 1994 and responds to complaints or intelligence received. No inspections have been carried out in Ballymena in the past year.