Pub companies: follow-up - Business, Innovation and Skills Committee Contents

Supplementary memorandum submitted by Brulines


Email from Paul Chilver, Senior Trading Standards Officer, Stockton on Tees Borough Council, Trading Standards Section to Jeff Anspach at Brulines

  I apologise for the delay in sending you the formal letter as discussed. In order for you to formulate your reply I can state the following:

  1)  Here is the test included in the email from Wendy Martin, Director of Policy at LACORS…

    Dear Simon,

    Many thanks for your email regarding your concerns relating to the Bru-lines metering system. I am sorry that it has taken me a few days to respond.

    We can fully understand your concerns. LACORS have not produced "a report" as respects the Bru-lines metering system as suggested in your email. However I hope the information contained below will help your deliberations.

    We are aware of the complaints relating to this product and this has led to lengthy discussion at the LACORS metrology panel (our expert advisory group on weights and measures matters) on how to best tackle the concerns relating to the product and any that may arise about similar systems.

    It is our view that this type of equipment may be in use for trade, depending upon the exact nature of the contractual relationship between the brewery and the landlord. This could only be determined on a case by case basis as the legislation is dependent on the individual circumstances in each case.

    If it could be determined that the equipment was in use for trade, it would be caught by S17 of the Act, and as such if a Trading Standards Department could prove beyond all reasonable doubt, that the equipment was false and unjust, they could take enforcement action.

    It must be stressed however that any enforcement actions are the responsibility of individual local authorities who have to take into account a whole range of factors in determining the appropriate course of action.

    Under current laws, this type of equipment is not prescribed for the purpose of S11 of the Weights and Measures Act, and as such does not need a pattern approval under S12 of the Act or need to be verified before it can be used for trade.

    The equipment would only be caught by these obligations if the law were changed resulting in the equipment being prescribed under S11. It would be more appropriate to approach the NMO (formerly the NWML) to make such representation regarding a possible change in legislation. This is a course of action you may wish to consider.

    A method of testing the Bru-lines metering system has been formulated in conjunction with Stockton-on-Tees Trading Standards and Bru-lines. LACORS have advised that all Trading Standards Officers should use this method when testing the Bru-lines equipment.

    LACORS is also trying to get BRULINES (via their home authority Stockton) to submit their equipment for independent testing by the NMO laboratories. This would incur a cost to them and can only be a request not a requirement under the current legislation. However we feel this would be an important step forward.

    We are aware that the present suggested testing regime does not consider the effect of other external influences and the accuracy of the measuring system. An assessment of this can only really be achieved by proper testing at NMO and of course is one of the key reasons behind the type approval process for certain types of equipment.

    If for any reason Brulines choose not to take this course of action then we would certainly consider pressing NMO for a change in legislation to require type approval of this type of equipment.

    The other issue arising is that analysts seem to have made certain assumptions about the quantity of cleaning fluid that landlords need to pass through the system. This seems another area of disagreement. This is not a regulatory issue however and the only way to address this would be for the industry to come to some agreement over the assumptions used.

    I hope these comments are of some use.

  2)  As I mentioned this went out without me seeing it. I did contact LACORS afterwards to advise them that I had not approached you regarding the NMO testing yet and that the protocol was not a method of test but a method of contacting yourselves. I also suggested that "trying to get" was potentially misleading as it may suggest that any request has been rejected.

  3)  As that response says LACORS have stated that the equipment may be in use for trade but each situation needs to be looked at on its own merits. It is up to the TSO to make that decision based on facts to hand.

  4)  As expected it has been confirmed that the equipment is not currently prescribed and therefore does not require to be passed as fit for use for trade and therefore does not have to be "stamped" (which are verification stickers these days).

  5)  If an officer decides that a piece of equipment is in use for trade then although it is not prescribed it still must comply with section 17 of the Weights and Measures Act 1985 ie must not be false or unjust (it must be accurate).

  6)  I can confirm Brulines have been cooperating with Trading Standards

  7)  We did carry out a test on Brulines equipment in May 2009. The results of this test have been supplied to Brulines. It must be noted that this is not definitive proof that it is accurate because it was tested under controlled conditions and others factors were not considered eg time in use, different liquids, different flow rates, temperature variations, potential gas build up etc

  8)  Slough have tested Brulines equipment and believe that it is inaccurate. Brulines dispute some of the methodology behind some of these results due to the possible use of water instead of the liquid the equipment was set up to measure.

  9)  I have not yet submitted a formal written request for Brulines to have their equipment tested by the NMO. Brulines quite rightly would require further written information before making that decision. Any such submission would be voluntary.

  10)  I am currently looking at EMC (Electromagnetic Compatibility) compliance of the equipment, and will put this in writing to Brulines at a later stage. Briefly the question is whether the whole system is EMC compliant, not just the data transfer device and the power supply. There is a question of whether the system is a "fixed installation" as the requirements differ if this is the case. I am trying to clarify this.

  I hope this helps you. As I said I am intending to send you a letter summarising the current situation as soon as I can.

18 December 2009

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