Belfast Telegraph

Plea to back Northern Ireland's Consumer Council

Minister urges public to save 'invaluable' service before it's scrapped

BY DONNA DEENEY

The Environment Minister has backed a campaign to save Northern Ireland's Consumer Council, and called on constituents to join him.

In October, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster suggested the body could be scrapped over claims it cost too much, and a public consultation on its future was launched.

But Mark H Durkan said all efforts must be made to help save the independent body, which has been championing consumer rights for almost three decades.

"The organisation has supported local people and local businesses develop understanding and implementation of consumer rights. I know in my own constituency office, the support and policy advice from the Consumer Council is invaluable for my staff aiding the people of Derry," the Foyle MLA said.

"I have serious concerns around the Department for Enterprise, Trade and Investment's consultation regarding the future of the Consumer Council, particularly around the lack of robust information about the alternatives being offered.

"This is a matter of public interest especially at a time when more and more are faced with financial hardship, debt and consumer difficulties, the loss of this unique service would be colossal."

Mr Durkan urged the public to attend a consultation event in Londonderry on December 10 in the Tower Hotel, at 2pm, to "put forward the vital need for the continuation of this exceptional service for local people."

It is one of a series of public meetings being held to give the public the chance to take part in the consultation.

"For almost 30 years, the Consumer Council has done a sterling job at advocating and defending the rights of consumers in a wide range of areas," Mr Durkan added.

BACKGROUND

The Consumer Council was established in 1985 as an independent champion for the public.

A £20,000 independent review of the council commissioned a year ago concluded it may be too expensive and no longer essential to consumers.

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