MEP welcomes relaxation of metric guidelines

PUBLISHED: 11:55 22 October 2008 | UPDATED: 09:51 10 June 2010

The government s decision to take a more relaxed approach towards traders who continue to sell in imperial measurements has been welcomed by local MEP Neil Parish.

The government's decision to take a more relaxed approach towards traders who continue to sell in imperial measurements has been welcomed by local MEP Neil Parish.

The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills has announced that new guidelines will be issued to local councils within months to "encourage more proportionate action" that would prevent a repeat of the metric martyrs cases seen in recent months and years.

In 2007, after Conservative lobbying, EU commissioner Gunther Verheugen announced the UK would be able to keep imperial weights as a 'supplementary indicator' alongside metric measurements. The commission also gave a permanent exclusion for the British pint and the mile. Even with these exemptions, traders could still be prosecuted unless they display pricing information in both imperial and metric.

Neil Parish said: "We do need to ensure that consumers are not mis-sold produce because of confusing measurements, but there have been occasions when trading standards have been heavy-handed in applying the laws.

"We need trading standards officers to go after the real scammers in our town centres, not spend their time on traders who are generally law-abiding but want to sell by the bowl or the pound to customers who prefer to buy in these units of measurement.

"Ultimately, consumers should be able to purchase in the measurements they are accustomed to. Thanks to pressure from Conservative MEPs, the European Commission agreed to let us keep our pounds and ounces - and the government's decision to change its stance is about time.

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