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Robust Partnerships Deliver Real Consumer Confidence for Scotland

- 2004-08-06

by Consumer Direct

Partnerships have been a key element to making the development of Consumer Direct in Scotland a reality...

Partnerships have been a key element to making the development of Consumer Direct in Scotland a reality, to deliver a real sense of consumer empowerment across the country.

Led by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council) on behalf of the Department of Trade and Industry and Scotland?s local authorities, the project?s launch has been as a result of the hard work of the Scottish Stakeholder Board which has drawn expertise from all sectors of consumer advice, from the public sector to volunteer agencies.

The Stakeholder Board was established to drive forward the development of Consumer Direct Scotland, through the following remit:

  • be a forum to accept feedback from stakeholders on experiences and concerns
  • be able to influence Consumer Direct Scotland for the benefit of all stakeholders
  • be aware of the changing consumer climate in Scotland through the joint intelligence of all board members
  • undertake monitoring, evaluation and appraisal of Consumer Direct Scotland
  • promote Consumer Direct Scotland

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has undertaken to ensure that the key stakeholders have a serious role in helping to ensure that Consumer Direct Scotland is a success.

Stakeholder Board representative and Head of Consumer Protection and Support Services with Aberdeenshire Council, Bill Cassie said: "Consumer Direct Scotland will bring enormous benefits to Scottish consumers, and will prove to be an invaluable source of information and intelligence on common consumer problems, scams etc that can be put to good use by all the regulatory and advisory bodies who sit on the Board to help them campaign on particular issues and develop their own frontline services.

"Probably for the first time ever the Board brings together all the major players in the consumer rights field in Scotland and I am sure that individually and collectively they will all benefit from being part of this new and exciting service."

Cllr Alex A MacDonald, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Convener added: "The launch of Consumer Direct Scotland is excellent news for consumers across Scotland. I am delighted that the Western Isles was selected as the centre for the Consumer Direct operation and believe that it will set a standard of business excellence for others to follow. This is an exciting and innovative project and is the result of an excellent partnership between the Community Planning partners of the Western Isles, the enterprise networks, local authorities across Scotland, the DTI and TSC."

Councillor Pat Watters, President of COSLA said: "I wish to extend COSLA?s warmest congratulations to the Western Isles Council for successfully bidding to host Consumer Direct in Scotland. Consumer Direct is an initiative that will greatly benefit Scottish consumers and as such has the backing of COSLA and our member councils."

Graeme Millar, chairman of the Scottish Consumer Council welcomed the introduction of the new Consumer Direct service. He said: "This is a real step forward. Consumers have had difficulties for years in finding easy access to assistance and advice. This will change all that. Help will be available by simply picking up the phone. The new service has also been set up with input from consumer organisations, including the Scottish Consumer Council, to ensure that it meets all the needs consumers may have. People should no longer feel powerless if they want to complain or take action over poor service or shoddy goods."

Kaliani Lyle, Citizens Advice Scotland?s chief executive said: "We welcome the introduction of Consumer Direct in Scotland and the additional capacity in first-tier consumer advice that this will provide. In an increasingly complex and fast-moving world, we in the CAB service know that the need for good advice is greater than ever. Good advice strengthens consumer confidence, confirms what rights we enjoy, and empowers people in making the right choices."

Peter Sherry, Chairman of the Society of Chief Officers of Trading Standards in Scotland commented: "The Trading Standards Community in Scotland is looking forward to working closely with Consumer Direct, and local government very much appreciates the new investment being put into protecting consumers. I believe such a readily accessible helpline will provide individuals with the quick, accurate and expert advice they need to ?fight for their rights? on a wide range of issues."

Julia Clarke, Senior Public Affairs Officer with the Consumers Association added: "We very much welcome the introduction of this new service and look forward to Consumer Direct providing clear, practical advice, helping the consumers of Scotland."

The Shawbost Centre will be managed and operated by Telecom Service Centres Ltd (TSC), Scotland?s largest contact centre company.

TSC?s Chief Executive Officer Ken Hills is proud of his company?s role in the launch of this flagship project. He said: "I am delighted that TSC?s experience in running contact centres, many of which are in rural areas, has helped bring this exciting project to Shawbost.

"This is good news, not just for the Isle of Lewis but for the Scottish contact centre industry in general. I am delighted at the quality of personnel we have recruited in Lewis and confident our Shawbost centre has the skills and enthusiasm to give this initiative the perfect start."