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IT’S the first question asked when looking for a trader:Are they fair and honest?

Now trading standards officers in St Helens have launched an innovative scheme designed to make it easier for residents to find reliable tradesmen.

The trade register – called Fair Trader, Fair Comments – allows residents to locate fair and honest traders. Organisers are now recruiting St Helens-based traders who work within any trade sector. Before signing up, trading standards officers will carry out a basic business check and request reference from six customers from the past six months.

A council spokesman said: “Trading Standards are regularly contacted by consumers and asked to recommend a trader.“While they cannot recommend your business, consumers will be advised to use traders listed within the Fair Trader/Fair Comment trader register. “When a member of the Fair Trader/Fair Comment trader register has completed work for a customer the customer can rate the quality of the work, the time taken and the customer service given by the member trader.

“Up to five stars can be awarded for each of these three aspects of service provided by the trader. “This rating can be given via the website www.sthelens.gov.uk/fairtraderfaircomment or via a feedback form handed to the consumer on completion of work.“There will also be an option for the customer to leave comments.

These comments will be vetted prior to going live on the website.”

To join. visit www.sthelens.gov.uk/fairtraderfaircomment or contact St.Helens Council’s Trading Standards on 01744 676338.