BALLOONS bought from street vendors in St Helens could lead to a risk of strangulation in a young child.
They are just part of the catalogue of potentially dangerous goods found on sale in the town centre in a recent crackdown by trading standards officers.
The council watchdogs are now warning people to be on their guard when buying Christmas toys and gifts from street traders.
Officers are advising townsfolk to shop around when buying toys and gifts. Over recent weeks officers have seized a number of toys from pedlars who have set up in Church Street to make a quick killing, particularly on days when popular town centre events have been taking place.
The toys cost just a few pounds and can be tempting to buy as a stocking filler but often represent poor value for money.
Officers are concerned over how safe the toys are, as some seem to be poor quality, are not properly labelled and in some instances the importers of the toys have failed to produce any proper evidence that the products have passed required safety tests.
They highlight the sale of balloons attached to flexible plastic spiral cord as one particular problem. The cord has been added to the balloon by the street trader and can pose a risk of strangulation to a child and so the balloons should not be sold with the cord attached.
Officers will take action whenever dangerous toys are found on sale, and they urge everyone to shop around and make a few simple checks before they buy.
They advise shoppers to check that the toy has a “CE” mark and that there is a proper name and full address for the manufacturer or importer of the toy. Also, check that there are full instructions about how to use the toy and what age child it is suitable for.
Peddling goods is not illegal, but it can cause consumers problems, especially if the product is faulty, the customer has no chance of returning it to the retailer for a refund.
Toys and gifts can be bought locally, usually more cheaply in town centre shops and St. Mary’s Market.
A spokesman said: “Through our Love St Helens Campaign, the council is eager to support local retailers by urging people to buy local.”
If anyone has any concerns about goods they have bought they should contact Trading Standards on 08454 04 05 06.