Traders at St George`s Market have become the first in Northern Ireland to sign up to the national `Real Deal` charter.
The campaign – to which 46 local authorities in the rest of the United Kingdom have already committed – is aimed at stamping out the possibility of fake, illegal or unsafe goods from market stalls.
Belfast City Council is the first local authority in Northern Ireland to embrace the scheme, with St George`s Market signing up to the national charter. The move reinforces a number of measures already in place at the historic market to combat the sale of counterfeit goods.
The High Sheriff of Belfast, Alderman May Campbell, said:
“Markets, such as St George`s, are an invaluable part of Belfast`s retail environment, allowing people to purchase a wide range of goods, some of which are not available in shops, and often prove to be cheaper. The market also provides opportunities for small, local business to trade and grow.
“However, there is always the risk, however small, that some unscrupulous traders may try to use the market as a cover for selling fake, illegal or unsafe goods – something which can undermine the reputation of both the market and the vast majority of genuine, hard-working traders.
“In conjunction with the traders, the council already has a number of measures in place to combat such activity: for example, traders have to sign a trading permit, which outlines the goods they are allowed to sell, and the traders also have their own customer charter, which affords shoppers the same rights as if they were shopping in the High Street or elsewhere. We are all fully committed to ensure fair trading at St George`s, and our markets staff work closely with our environmental health staff, Trading Standards and the PSNI to prevent the sale of counterfeit and other illegal goods.
“Signing up to the Real Deal charter is another symbol of that commitment and further demonstrates that St George`s – and its traders – offer exactly that.”
PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Drew Harris, on behalf of the Organised Crime Task Force, said:
“Police are committed to creating an environment in Northern Ireland which supports legitimate traders and brings the full force of the law to bear on those criminals dealing in counterfeit goods.
“Fake items may appear attractive but profits from them find their way into organised crime gangs involved in drugs supply, human trafficking and terrorism. This partnership with Belfast City Council is a positive example of how agencies can work together to promote law-abiding market activity providing benefits for customers, traders and communities and reducing opportunities for criminal activity.”
Patricia Lennon, Real Deal Campaign Director, said:
“We are delighted that Belfast`s flagship St George`s Market is the first in Northern Ireland to adopt the Real Deal charter and we hope that other councils will follow this lead. The Real Deal provides a proven framework for market operators, councils, enforcement agencies and businesses to work together, at a local level, to keep counterfeit conmen, and dealers in other illicit goods, out of markets and car boot fairs.
“It means that shoppers can buy with confidence and enjoy all the many benefits that a trip to the market offers.”
Pat Dyer, Chairman of the Belfast branch of the National Traders Federation, commented:
“All of us are committed to giving shoppers at St George`s Market a real deal – not only in terms of price but also in the quality of goods we sell. Counterfeit goods have no place in St George`s and we as traders are committed to making sure that they do not find their way in, and that the market is a `fake free` environment. That is why we are fully supportive of the authorities and this initiative, which can only be a benefit to markets as a whole.”
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