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Metrology matters

Whether it’s at shops, markets, petrol stations, pubs or hospitals, weights and measures inspections affect us all.

Trading standards officers carry out weights and measures inspections to make sure consumers aren’t short changed or put at risk, and honest businesses are not unfairly disadvantaged.

Some £600 billion worth of goods and utilities are sold annually in the United Kingdom on the basis of measurement of their quantity.

Although a small area geographically, North East Lincolnshire has a high amount of weights and measures equipment due to the industrial nature of the local economy.

Recent examples of weights and measures inspection results include weighbridges and petrol pumps.

A total of 51 weighbridges were tested in the 2012/13 financial year and officers found problems including the inaccurate weighing of wagons at five of them.

Wagons weighing less than declared are costing the customer. Those weighbridges over dispensing might appear to benefit the customer in the short term, but in the long term will cost more as prices will increase to compensate.

More than 68 million litres of fuel are bought per year within North East Lincolnshire alone. In 2012/13, 162 petrol pumps were tested at 12 sites with problems found at 17 per cent of the pumps tested.

Under dispensing pumps were among the problems found and this is detrimental to motorists who are not receiving the amount of fuel they have paid for.

Councillor Hazel Chase, portfolio holder for Safer and Stronger Communities at North East Lincolnshire Council, said: “Weights and measures legislation has been in place in this country for about 1,000 years. It’s a vital part of the work carried out by trading standards officers and helps prevent consumers from being ripped off and legitimate businesses from undercharging for the products they supply.”

Neil Clark, trading standards manager at North East Lincolnshire Council, said: “Weights and measures work done by trading standards officers up and down the country is a key element of economic growth and fair trading. People will not realise that the work of weights and measures inspectors also impacts on our health as they ensure weighing instruments used in the NHS for monitoring, diagnosis and treatment of patients are approved, certified and accurate.”

Anyone who believes they have been sold short measure or concerned that unsuitable measuring equipment is used to calculate prices can contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 08454 040506. This is the first point of contact for anyone wishing to make a complaint to the trading standards service wherever you live.