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Thursday, September 23, 1999 Published at 18:31 GMT 19:31 UK

UK: Wales

Howells welcomes action against touts

The Millennium Stadium will host the 1999 Rugby World Cup final

Consumer Affairs Minister Dr Kim Howells has welcomed action to tackle ticket touts and stamp out merchandising scams during the Rugby World Cup, which starts on 1 October.

Welsh Consumer Council spokesman Chris Llewellyn: "The genuine fan is frustrated about this issue"
Dr Howells said "Like many other fans here and from around the world, I want to enjoy the Rugby World Cup.

"I don't want to see this great event spoiled by cheats and rip-off merchants."

Cardiff County Council made a pledge with other enforcement agencies to combat rogue traders.

A taskforce is now being created, with members from the Trading Standards Department, HM Customs and Excise, the police and the Benefits Agency.

The taskforce will look at all aspects of trade during the World Cup, including ticket touting, food safety and the description of goods and services.

[ image: Consumer Affairs Minister Dr Kim Howells welcomed the action]
Consumer Affairs Minister Dr Kim Howells welcomed the action
Dr Howells said "The Government's Consumer White Paper highlighted the need for enforcement agencies to collaborate, and work effectively together.

"This Welsh taskforce is an excellent example for others to follow. It is imperative for people to remain on their guard.

"Ticket touts thrive on events like this, and people should be wary of buying from them.

"Unofficial and substandard merchandising, and unlicensed fast-food stands also lead to problems for consumers. I want all rugby supporters to enjoy themselves."

Dr Howells was joined by Councillor Clarissa Holland, Chair of Cardiff Licensing Committee.

She said: "Combining our expert knowledge and resources will give us more chance to protect visitors to Cardiff. This emphasises the fair trading policy that Cardiff Council is striving to develop and maintain.

"All visitors to this City, from all nations, will receive a warm welcome and shall leave knowing that they have not been ripped off."

Welsh Consumer Council spokesman Chris Llewellyn said the issue of touts was a "smokescreen" for the real problem of ticket distribution.

"I think the WRU needs to look at how it distributes its tickets," said Mr Llewellyn.

"With a stadium that has increased its capacity by 30,000, people expect those tickets to become publicly available."

The sale to the public on Monday of 2-3,000 tickets for the opening match on October 1 between Wales and Argentina was not good enough, he added.

"I do not think this is satisfactory for a game that is a national game in Wales," said Mr Llewellyn.

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