Barrie Grunwald: Black Friday went with a bang

Council leader Barrie Grunewald

Council leader Barrie Grunewald

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Last week’s Black Friday got off to a slow start – but things certainly picked up later in the day!

We heard from several leading retailers in the town centre that sales figures were a lot higher than usual – and better than last year’s Black Friday event.

Tyrers said it was great to be involved and the event enabled them to keep pace with some of their bigger competitors in other areas.

Managing director Ali Tyrer said the town centre was alive and thriving over the weekend - with many local stores benefiting from the support of their loyal customers.

The council is always in the public eye for one reason or another. But there’s a heck of a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes that most people never get to hear about.

Keeping people safe is a priority.

And a prime example of this was some recent testing work that our Trading Standards team carried out on Children’s fancy dress and Halloween costumes that are on sale in the borough.

I’m sure many of us remember the distressing account of TV presenter Claudia Winkleman’s daughter who was badly burned when her Halloween outfit caught fire last year.

So along with trading standards teams around the country, our officers checked their local stocks to ensure they met current European safety standards and complied with the current toy safety standard used for children’s costumes.

Fortunately they all passed. But now the evidence gathered will be fed into a separate assessment by the British Standards Institute which will look at whether fancy dress costumes should be classed as clothing rather than toys - and therefore have to comply with even more stringent nightwear flammability standards.

This type of work is routinely undertaken without the knowledge of the public but makes a vital contribution to ensuring the safety of products sold to St Helens consumers.

A slightly more visible example of the work we do will see our environmental wardens

presenting smokers with a pouch they can use to put their cigarette butt in to avoid littering.

And, having undergone special training, they will also be engaging with the smokers and providing them with details of the Smokefree St Helens Service.

Wardens will talk with people issued a £75 fixed penalty notice (£50 if paid within 10 days) for tobacco related litter and if they want to stop, they will be signposted to the Smokefree service for information and advice about stopping smoking.

I know many smokers do want to quit, but find it difficult due to the addictive nature of nicotine.

Accessing a smoking cessation service has been shown to treble the success rate of people trying to stop smoking.