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Austrians campaign to use Litre

Introduction

BWMA has rallied in support of Austrian restaurateur Andrea Schutz in Worcester who has been told by trading standards officials that she is breaking the law by serving beer in traditional litre flutes and steins.

Although BWMA campaigns for the promotion of customary UK units, it believes that choice in measurement should extend to metric-users as well as imperial-users. Business owners and consumers should be allowed to make up their own minds as to which system they use: litres or pints.


Andrea Schutz

December 19th 2002 visit by Trading Standards Officers

The following report and photograph is provided by BWMA's representative who attended the Cardinal's Hat on the above date to act as witness for Andrea Schutz during the visit by Worcester Trading Standards officers.
Photo: Andrea explains metric flutes and steins to Mr John Dell
"Two officers came, John Dell the Divisional Manager and his TSO David Hough. The latter said very little. I asked if John Dell objected to me tape recording what he said to Andrea. He said he did object as this was only an "informal" Visit. I said I was happy provided that they did not use anything Andrea said in a prosecution. He assured me that no prosecution was contemplated.

Mr Dell was interested to examine the metric vessels. He asked if he could take a set away to check the accuracy of the Austrian markings. Andrea agreed on condition that they were returned. They gave her a receipt.

Mr Dell said they want to work with businesses but they also have to enforce the regulations. He said that they had never prosecuted publicans for selling "pints" of shandy, which were illegal. He said that the law was somewhat "tedious".

Mr Dell said that they had far more important things to do in relation to fraud and safety but they had to uphold the Weights & Measures law as well. They were very surprised with their reception - press interviews, photo shoots, customer support for Andrea. They emphasised again in interviews to the press that at this stage they were not contemplating a prosecution. They claimed prosecution had never been mentioned in this case [NB This is accurate but the letter sent to Andrea was worded such that they could take the matter further if she kept on selling in litres].

The visit was amicable, and Mr Dell and Mr Hough said they would be back for another informal visit to return the glasses and steins. BBC Hereford & Worcester radio interviewed Andrea, Mr Dell and various customers. Similarly, the reporter from the Worcester Evening News wrote a full report".

Background

The Worcester pub premises had been closed for two years, until Mrs Schutz reopened to sell Austrian beer and food in July 2002. However, within weeks of opening, Mrs Schutz's premises was visited by DE Hough, the Worcestershire inspector of weights and measures. Mr Hough wrote the following on October 7th:

"You appear to have contravened the Weights and Measures Act 1985, therefore, it is the advice of this service that you replace your metric capacity measures with ½ and 1 pint government stamped capacity measures within 14 days of this letter. Should you fail to comply with the advice given to you, I will have no alternative to report the matter to the Head of Trading Standards for his consideration".

British law says that soft-drinks and spirits must be sold in metric while cider and beer must be sold in pints. Of the trading standards warning, Andrea told the press, "They can fine me if they want to, but we will continue serving our beer in steins and flutes…customers love the fact that we serve our beer in flutes and steins because it is part of the appeal of drinking in an Austrian bar."

Andrea, who runs the restaurant with Anton Limlei, is also being supported by the Metric Martyrs Defence Fund due to the clear parallels between the case of Steve Thoburn, prosecuted for selling fresh fruit in pounds and ounces rather than kilograms, and Andrea, facing prosecution for selling beer in litres rather than pints. Metric Martyr campaign manager director Neil Herron said, "This case with Andrea highlights the total absurdity and hypocrisy of the metric regulations. This has to go back to central Government for ministers to sort out because it is a total and utter nonsense."

On October 18th 2002, Andrea and Anton were joined by Neil Herron, Steven Thoburn, and MEPs Liz Lynn (Lib-Dem) and Malcolm Harbour (Conservative). BWMA committee members were also in attendance, and were delighted to sample Austrian beer in 0.3 litre, 0.5 litre and 1litre steins, together with fresh rolls and hot sausages.

Left to right, top to bottom: Malcolm Harbour MEP, Neil Herron, Liz Lynn MEP, Steven Thoburn, Andrea Schutz

BWMA supports Andrea Schutz in claiming her right to use customary Austrian measures in her pub, and says that the threat of prosecution against her is yet another example of the idiotic laws that destroy people's right to simple, harmless choices between traditional British and metric units of measurement. Mrs Schutz says that with the backing of Metric Martyrs they would fight trading standards all the way to the European Parliament: "They can try and prosecute or fine us but we will fight for the right of our customers to have a choice in how they want to buy their beer."

Liberty

Human rights organisation Liberty, already involved with the Metric Martyr Appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, has agreed to act as legal representative for Andrea Schutz in any actions commenced by Trading Standards. John Wadham, the Director of Liberty, said: "The threatened prosecution of Miss Schutz highlights that this is not an anti-European issue. It is about freedom of speech in the face of the nonsensical and disproportionate use of the criminal law".

UK Metric Association

In an unexpected twist, Andrea received a letter from the UK Metric Association, an organisation campaigning to ban the pint. The letter suggested that, to get around the law requiring pints, Mrs Schutz should first comply with the law by pouring her Austrian beer into pint glasses, but then tip the contents into flutes and steins before serving her customers. The letter suggested that, "1 pint + 1/3 pint + 1/3 pint = 0.947 litre".

Referring to "pro-imperial organisations", the UKMA told Mrs Schutz that,

"…some organisations fight vigorously against introduction of metric signage and have been even alleged to have vandalised metric road and footpath signs. Some of these organisations have, regrettably, challenged the validity of metric legislation in this country as an attempt to undermine Britain's participation in the European Union and are allied with political groups whose primary goal is for Britain to leave the EU".

The letter added, "We recommend that you exercise caution and care with any lobbying groups who may wish to exploit your case to achieve their political ends".

Despite this letter, Andrea told BWMA representatives that BWMA had her total confidence and that she had no wish to see traditional British weights and measures banned. She said that she was pleased to serve beer in pints for customers that requested it.

BWMA urges people to give Andrea and Anton their support. Visit the Cardinal's Hat at 31 Friar Street, Worcester, and have a stein of fine Austrian beer. Varieties include Stiegl Goldbrau (a famous Austrian beer), Stiegl Zwickl (cloudy fresh beer), Stiegl Pils (premium pils) and Stiegl Weizengold (refreshing beer). Over a thousand people have so far signed the "Save the Litre" petition.
Toasting final victory: Andrea Schutz and Anton Limlei

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