Villagers close the door on cold call traders

Julia Smith, second right, with Terry Neal and PCSOs Leanne Dobinson and Naomi Biggin
Julia Smith, second right, with Terry Neal and PCSOs Leanne Dobinson and Naomi Biggin

Villagers have shut the door on unwanted visitors by introducing a no cold caller zone.

Uninvited traders who disturb householders in Unstone are at risk of being reported to police.

The zone, which is the first of its kind in the Dronfield area, covers 90 homes in Cheetham Avenue, Sylvia Road, Alice Way, Robert Close and a small cul de sac on Sheffield Road.

Signs urging cold-calling traders to stay away have been erected on street lights in a joint campaign by villagers, police and Derbyshire County Council.

David Black, who spearheaded the move, joined forces with Julia Smith, the community’s Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator, to canvass householders. The responses showed that 97 per cent were in favour of creating a no cold caller zone.

No cold calling zones are designed to deter unsolicited callers from going door to door, which in turn can help to reduce the risk of a resident becoming the victim of crime.

Police Community Support Officers Leanne Dobinson and Naomi Biggin helped to drive the Unstone initiative forward by raising awareness of its aims and putting the artwork for the signs in the hands of designers

Leanne said: “I think the scheme is brilliant. We are hoping that these signs will be a deterrent for cold callers coming into the area. Not everyone is fortunate to have neighbours to look out for them, to have that close-knit community engagement.

“We’ve had increased calls for our service in Unstone and Dronfield. Over the last four months we’ve seen a bit of a rise in cold callers. It’s quite an affluent area and it is mainly elderly residents who get targeted - they are seen as being more vulnerable and more susceptible.”

Naomi added: “The main thing is cold-calling rogue traders. People have turned up unannounced offering to work on the roof which started as the nights got longer.”

David and his wife have lived in Sylvia Road for three years. He said: “We have door to door people selling wares, double glazing, driveway cleaning, garden maintenance, casual labourers, religious bodies and charities to name a few.

“Over the years the charity sellers have become quite aggressive and are kings of the “we don’t want money now, just sign a direct debit tactic’.

“Whilst my wife and I are hardened Brummies, I was aware that there are senior citizens in the area that may not be so confident to deal with these callers.

“I also saw Neighbourhood Watch Group bulletins’ cases of doorstep crime costing people their life savings and wanted to do something to make sure that could not happen to my friends and neighbours here.”

Julia Smith, who co-ordinates Cheetham Avenue Neighbourhood Watch, said: “David has spearheaded and championed the no cold caller zone and I’ve been very happy to support him in this. I’m so proud of him and I’m thrilled with the outcome.

“We’ve had no end of double glazing callers. Three or four of them come in a car and they move up and down the street.

“The worst incident which made me really concerned about the elderly was when charity representatives knocked on the door in the winter when it was dark with the proposed direct debit form in hand.”

Terry Neal, 76, who lives with his disabled wife across the road from Julia on Cheetham Avenue, said: “There was an incident three or four years ago which made me very suspicious and alarm bells started ringing. It was just the manner in which they presented themselves - they didn’t come over as nice people. I dialled 101 and someone came out from the police and said the callers were kosher and who they said they were.

“If I see a car in the street which I don’t recognise, I will come across to Julia and ask her if she’s seen it and does she know anything about it. We all look out for each other.”

In addition to the signs, information packs have been distributed to householders which includes details about the county council’s Trusted Trader Scheme.

David said: ”I’m delighted it’s all come together so well, and I’m really impressed at how the police, Trading Standards and Derbyshire County Council collaborated and gave their support. It goes to show what a can-do attitude and plenty of community spirit can accomplish.”

lA new Neighbourhood Watch initiative is to be launched which will cover Dronfield, Dronfield Woodhouse, Unstone, Holmesfield and Barlow.

The aim is to attract new people to set up groups which can look out for signs of crime in their community and share information with each other and the police.

Information about the scheme will be available at the launch in Dronfield Civic Hall on Wednesday, September 21 at 7pm.