CAR washes could be linked to human trafficking gangs.

Local councillors are now considering making car washes apply to councils for licences over fears they could be trafficking vulnerable people.

East Ayrshire Council have now voted to approach national body COSLA which could allow them to making car washes apply to local authorities for licences. 

The worries were raised when politicians voted for East Ayrshire to sign a charter against modern slavery at the local authority’s full council meeting last week (May 9).

Chief governance officer David Mitchell said: “Many of the public are nervous about car washes.”

He said the council aims to take a tough stance on tackling human trafficking.

Mr Mitchell said: “We want to put meat on the bones. We want to walk the walk and not just talk the talk.”

He said contract tenders are carefully scrutinised to make sure human trafficking-linked firms never win council business.

Urging councillors to be vigilant, Mr Mitchell added: “If we overlook things and ignore things it won’t get any better.”

He said people should not just walk past if they see anything suspicious.

Council leader Douglas Reid raised the prospect of granting licences for car washes and said COSLA should look into the matter.

Modern slaves are forced to work through threats and are controlled by a so-called ‘employer.’ They may be imprisoned, subjected to violence, sexual exploitation or forced into criminality.

Depute leader Councillor Elena Whitham said: “This isn’t something that is just in big cities. We have seen it locally in Kilmarnock and down the road in Ayr.”

A report presented to councillors said: “Modern slavery is one of the great evils of our time and it is happening all around us, in nail bars, car washes, farm factories and restaurants.”

The modern charter gives councils advice to ensure none of the £40 billion spent by councils annually ends up in the pockets of traffickers.

Councillors approved the signing of the charter against modern slavery.