A LONG-established Newport estate agent has been banned from carrying out such work by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).

It has issued a prohibition order banning John Shepherd, trading as Grove Estates, from engaging in estate agency work owing to its failure to join a consumer redress scheme.

This failure continued despite Newport council's trading standards department imposing a £1,000 penalty charge notice.

All estate agents engaging in residential sales are required by law to belong to an OFT- approved consumer redress scheme.

The OFT subsequently launched its own investigation under the Estate Agents Act 1979, which concluded that Mr Shepherd, trading as Grove Estates, is unfit to practise estate agency work.

Grove Estates, based on Malpas Road, was set up in 1985. It sells properties in and around Newport, but particularly in the city's Malpas and Bettws areas.

"This is a reminder to all estate agents that by failing to join a redress scheme, they are likely to face a ban from the profession," said Mike Coates, assistant director in the OFT's Goods and Consumer Group.

"Home buyers have the right to know that the estate agents they are dealing with are trustworthy and observe the law.

"We, working together with the Trading Standards Service, will continue to take tough action against estate agents who flout the law."

Redress schemes are there to deal with all complaints about the buying and selling of homes, including complaints about Home Information Packs. They are intended to be free to members of the public.

No-one from Grove Estates was available to comment on the ban.