SCAMMERS and con artists face stronger opposition under new proposals to merge trading standards teams in two counties.

Bucks and Surrey County Councils are in talks about teaming up to protect the public against consumer rip-offs and to support businesses, in what bosses call a “smarter use of taxpayers money”.

If plans are approved by both councils later this year, the new squad would launch next spring and would share expertise and intelligence, attract greater government funding and save money through efficiency savings.

Led by a project board to include senior councillors and officers from both councils, the combined trading standards service would share IT and databases, intelligence, legal expertise and resources.

Teams are currently working on a business case and plans are set to be finalised in the summer.

If the merger goes ahead, trading standards teams in Surrey and Bucks still have local bases and local campaigns, with potential scope to explore working with other councils in future.

Martin Phillips, Buckinghamshire's cabinet member for community engagement, said: “Teaming up with colleagues in Surrey would protect residents of both counties even more, giving both local teams extra expertise and capacity for major initiatives.

“Not only this, it’ll make our tight budgets go further through smarter use of taxpayers’ money. It is a great example of innovation in action.”