Church warning on driveway con

LORNA MARSH Cowboy gangs targeting Norfolk churches have sparked warnings to the county's clergy - with one vicar allegedly suffering threats after refusing to pay for unwanted work.

LORNA MARSH

Cowboy gangs targeting Norfolk churches have sparked warnings to the county's clergy - with one vicar allegedly suffering threats after refusing to pay for unwanted work.

County council trading standards officials have received complaints from two local churches who reported gangs “giving the impression” they are passing council workers and offering to repair drives or car parks.

An email alert about the scam to Church of England clergy in the Norwich diocese has been sent from the Bishop's office.

In one incident the Rev Nicholas Parry, vicar of Costessey, said his Parochial Church Council was refusing to pay up after being called out of the blue and told the car park of St Helen's needed urgent attention.

The gang are now threatening to dig up the drive after Rev Parry told them they would not be paid for the unwanted and unnecessary work on the church car park.

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Mr Parry said: “I thought we simply needed a couple of holes filling in, which I agreed to, but when I went to St Helen's later I discovered an area 22 ft by 16 ft had been covered.

“We have since been arguing over the cost of the work and during one conversation I was told that if I didn't pay up they would come back with a digger and dig it all back up.”

A second church dealing with the company is Park Lane Methodist Church, in Norwich, which was asked to pay £1,500 for resurfacing work after it had been laid. No overall price was given beforehand.

Although the church treasurer accepts a verbal agreement was made, he has called in Norfolk County Council's Trading Standards depart-ment which is investigating both incidents with a view to prosecution.

David Collinson, Head of Norfolk County Council's Trading Standards department, said: “All Norfolk traders and householders should only use reputable companies and to obtain at least three written quotations before agreeing to go ahead. In all cases involving private consumers a right to cancel the contract in writing should also be given.”