176 'dangerous punch bags' seized on 'peculiar Friday afternoon' in South Tyneside

176 dangerous punch bags were among matters dealt with in South Tyneside by council officers during a 'peculiar' year176 dangerous punch bags were among matters dealt with in South Tyneside by council officers during a 'peculiar' year
176 dangerous punch bags were among matters dealt with in South Tyneside by council officers during a 'peculiar' year
Enforcement work around fly-tipping, rogue landlords and counterfeit goods in South Tyneside has continued to deliver results during the coronavirus pandemic.

South Tyneside Council’s Licensing and Regulatory Committee were given an update on the work of the council in the 2020/21 financial year so far.

Despite taking on extra responsibilities around Covid-19, the council’s regulatory services department has continued its regular functions.

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Among the matters dealt with include the council’s trading standards team also seized 176 ‘dangerous punch bags.’

James Maughan, the council’s operations manager for resilience, said: “It’s not everyday we seize nearly 200 full-size punch bags, as you can imagine that was a peculiar Friday afternoon.”

Mr Maughan said more details of the case would be made public at a later date.

“I know the operations manager of trading standards wants to bring that as a separate report at a later committee,” he said.

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Other matters dealt with ranged from prosecutions for waste offences and removing tenants from properties for their own safety, to tackling spikes in noise nuisance complaints during lockdown.

“I just thought it was important to bring a report on the basis that the last seven months have been peculiar nationally, not just within South Tyneside,” said Mr Maughan.

“I thought it was important to show the work of colleagues within the regulatory services department – building control, trading standards, licensing and environmental health – to keep the residents of the borough safe.

“Not just dealing with the council’s response to coronavirus, in which they have been intrinsically involved since the outset, but also the business as usual.”

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At the meeting, which was held via videolink and broadcast on YouTube, councillors heard about recent enforcement work and actions across the borough.

Key highlights included:

:: 20 formal actions for businesses under coronavirus legislation, ranging from community protection warnings to notices enforcing closure.

:: 14 fixed penalty notices for fly-tipping as well as 11 prosecutions for environmental crime.

:: Four vehicles seized for being used in fly-tipping offences.

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:: 126 food hygiene or food standards inspections and 87 revisits to premises.

:: 167 food complaints investigated and 84 food business registrations processed.

:: Three ‘emergency prohibition notices’ issued requiring ‘immediate removal of tenants for their own safety’ due to serious property defects – all cases were linked to the private rented sector and tenants were rehoused while landlords were made to comply with the law.

:: Action taken against five houses in multiple occupation.

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:: 55% increase in noise and air quality complaints compared to the same period in 2019. Extra staff deployed and enforcement measures included ‘noise abatement notices’ and the ‘seizure of noise making equipment.’

:: A total of three new ‘no cold calling zones’ launched.

:: Around £20,000 of counterfeit tobacco seized.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the council’s licensing department have also adopted new ways of working to reduce the burden on businesses.

According to a report for councillors, this included accepting private MOTs for taxis for a short period of time while the MOT test bay at Middlefields was closed.

Other changes included simplifying the application process for licenses and introducing pro rata payments to support licensees.

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