A BLAENAVON tattoo parlour has become the first in the UK to receive a rating from the Tattoo Hygiene Rating Scheme.

INKinc the Tattoo Lounge, in Broad Street, run by tattooist Aron Walton, 35, received the top rating from Torfaen council on February 7.

Mr Walton opened the business on January 18.

He said: “Tattoo shops often look intimidating which limits the clientèle that go there to rockers and bikers, so I wanted to open a shop that was friendly. We did the parlour to the best standard we could, so we expected a good outcome from the scheme.”

After a local authority inspection, each tattoo parlour is awarded a rating from one star, needing improvement, to four stars, very good.

The new system is based on good practice and the council can remove the award should conditions fall.

Successful premises receive a certificate and a window sticker to display.

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health Director for Wales, Julie Barratt, said: “The aim of the Tattoo Hygiene Rating Scheme is to drive up standards in the tattoo industry.

“We know Aron and the staff at INKinc, the Tattoo Lounge, worked hard with the staff at Torfaen council to make sure they achieved the top rating and they can be justifiably proud of what they have achieved.”

Mr Walton, who has worked as a tattoo artist for eight years, said this business will be his first of many, with his 10 year plan seeing 20 shops open under the INKinc brand.

He is one of three partners, and in Blaenavon the store has two artists and three apprentices.

He added: “We saw a gap in the market for a tattoo parlour in Blaenavon and the community has been very welcoming. Now I will work on building the brand up and expanding.”