For latest news,
please see the most recent edition of BWMA's newsletter, "The Yardstick", on
Old news below:
Seizure of imperial weighing scales 16
council officials, accompanied by police, seized imperial weighing scales
belonging to market trader Colin Hunt on 13 September 2007. Colin Hunt was one
of the original five "Metric Martyr" traders who underwent criminal prosecution
for selling in pounds and ounces in 2002 -
click here for more
Hunt (photo from
EC Commission proposals published
Günter Verheugen has published his proposals on metric Directive 80/181.
Click here for a summary and links to the EC report,
and here for BWMA's comment
British Government supports continued use of non-metric
supplementary indications 20 January
The Department of Trade
and Industry has issued the following statement in relation to the EC
"metric-only" Directive 80/181 : "The use of supplementary indications on goods
is an important means of facilitating trade between Member States and
non-metric countries such as the USA. The Government believes that the removal
of the permission to use supplementary indications after 2009 could create a
barrier to trade and increase costs for UK businesses wishing to export to the
US. Therefore, the Government intends to support the continued use of
supplementary indications after 2009 for an indefinite period".
British Industry meets Department of Trade and Industry over
"metric-only" Directive 9 November
Representatives from BWMA
and British industry have met with the Department of Trade and Industry to
express grave concerns with the EC's "metric-only" Directive, due to be
implemented in 2010. Organisations attending including those representing
clothing, tyre, healthcare, bicycle, dairy, food and drink, hand tools, artists
paper and domestic appliances.
There are fears that the
Directive will place a barrier to global trade, reduce the ability to provide
consumer information and cause safety risks. Moreover, manufacturing processes
would be affected, such as the remoulding of tyres, and the setting up of
duplicated packaging, inventories and warehousing to serve both EU and US
markets. The DTI said there was a strong case for supplementary indications and
that it was open to views.
Orgalime opposes EC "metric-only" 2010 Directive
(31 October 2006)
European-wide body representing EU mechanical, electrical and metalworking
industries, is opposed to the EC's intention to prevent the display of
non-metric measurement information from January 2010. Orgalime's position is
that, "...the Commission should allow the use of supplementary indications on
products, using both SI and other units in order to be able to serve the needs
of the markets for engineering products".
remarks that, although, "...in many countries SI [metric] units are the
standard, this is by no means universal practice. In certain countries in the
European Union, or outside it, units other than SI are still used and still
have to be used ... we urge the Commission to refrain from introducing any
further legally enforced time frame for introducing obligatory marking in SI
units only within the EU ... Orgalime believes that the present issue which has
been reappearing on the regulatory agenda since the 1970s needs to be dealt
with once and for all ... The possibility to label products and have
documen-tation using both SI and other units for as long as required by the
market must therefore, in our view, be perpetuated".
BWMA's Honorary Members and Patrons write to the Prime
Minister (21 April 2006)
marketeer faces police questions over lb of onions (5 July
Massive backlash against Neil Kinnock and UK Metric Association
call for metric road signs (24 February
call for metric road signs in time for the 2012 London Olympics by the UK
Metric Association and former EC Commissioner Neil Kinnock has been rejected by
the government, press, motoring associations and public.
motorists association AA said: "A move to make UK road signs metric will take
far longer than five years. A key flaw lies with speedometers that primarily
measure miles per hour. Any precipitous change-over will create confusion,
danger and anger, particularly where misunderstanding leads to prosecution for
road traffic offences, such as speeding. Another is the cost of changing all
road signs, which will far exceed those predicted in the report. We also know
from past experience that there will be some highway authorities who lag well
behind. A patchwork of metric and imperial signage across the country would be
a recipe for disaster".
Department of Transport released a report showing that the
cost of metric conversion would be in the region of
£700 million, far more than the £80 million suggested by UKMA.
Meanwhile, 96% of callers to Teletext rejected the idea (see photo).
US Government back pedals on metric conversion
(29 October 2005)
Efforts by the U.S.
government's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to introduce
compulsory metric conversion for packaged food and goods in the USA
(euphemistically described as "voluntary metric-only labelling" -
click here for analysis) have been prevented. It was
intended that a metric bill would be put before Congress this year but NIST has
accepted that this will not happen this year or in the foreseeable future.
NIST's failure is
due in no small part to opposition by the Food Marketing Institute, representing 26,000 food
retail stores, and Kroger, America's largest supermarket chain. FMI
pointed out that metric conversion would entail huge costs for the food retail
industry, affecting value-comparisons, packaging, label inventories, shipping
cases and much more.
EC back pedals on threat to mile and pint (20
interview with EUpolitix.com on 19 September, European Commissioner for
Enterprise and Industry Günter Verheugen denied that he intends to force
the UK to implement metric measures. He said: "I am not pressuring the UK to go
metric. As long as I am in Brussels I will not touch the issue. Full stop ... I
personally have a lot of sympathy for the pint and for the mile in the UK ...
what is the problem here for the internal market. Really, what is the
UK Metric Association is "unnamed party" behind EC
pressure (September 3rd, 2005)
available from the Department for Transport reveals that it was the UK Metric
Association that made a complaint to the EC regarding the UK's failure to set
an end-date for the pint and mile (see last news entry). This disclosure is
likely to cause acute embarassment to UKMA, which last week issued a press
statement denying that it had any contact with the EC over this issue. For the
full story, click
Renewed EC pressure on Britain to abolish pint and mile (August 28th, 2005)
Sunday papers today contain news of renewed pressure by the European Commission
on Britain to abolish the mile in favour of the kilometre, spurred on by
"unnamed parties" in the UK. These stories may be accessed via the websites of
the Sunday Tmes and the
30 metric signs
modified by York Council (August 19th 2005)
campaigners are celebrating after a council was forced to modify 30 public
rights of way signs. City of York Council erected the path markers with
distances in kilometres (km) instead of miles. Kilometres are not authorised
under highways regulations. The authority said it ordered plastic discs to fix
over the offending metric distances, adding: "This was a genuine error and as
soon as it was brought to our attention, we took measures to amend it".
|Active Resistance to Metrication supporter Peter Rogers said: "Each
time we are successful [in getting metric signs changed], it is a small but
significant step towards eradicating them from our country. The imperial
weights and measures of this country are part of our traditions and part of our
culture. Attempts to impose metric signs is one by stealth and deception and
has been going on for many years."
Metric Judgement in Crisis (May 1st
advice provided to MPs has disowned the February 2002 Metric Martyrs judgement
that convicted Steve Thoburn for using pounds and ounces.
Click here for further information
Essex butcher Dave Stephens passes away (April
We are sad to
report that Dave Stephens, the first trader in Britain to receive an
infringement notice for using pounds and ounces, passed away today. Dave was a
popular figure in the campaign for British weights and measures.
Dave had recently
celebrated his fifth anniverary of trading in lb/oz in defiance of metric
regulations (see news entry for 6th January 2005, below), and had intended to
stand for Parliament in a few weeks' time. Dave Stephens was 60 years old.
BWMA to take Torbay Council to Local Government Ombudsman (April 1st, 2005)
Torbay Council has failed to
meet BWMA's requirements for a satisfactory settlement with regards to Dennis
Webb, the local fruitier who had his scales damaged by a Trading Standards
Officer. What started out as a routine enquiry by BWMA into the damage became
an eight month saga as Torbay Trading Standards refused to provide information
on what happened, or what their legal authority might be.
An internal investigation by
Torbay Council upheld five of BWMA's ten complaints, but did not address
adequately the allegation that Torbay Trading Standards had obstructed BWMA's
representation of Mr Webb. Further, BWMA regards Torbay Council's offer to Mr
Webb of £100 as wholly inadequate, given the gravity of its officers'
Report launched on 5th anniversary of infringement
notice (January 6th,
Butcher Dave Stephens has marked the fifth anniversary of receiving
the first ever metric infringement notice by vowing never to use metric
weights. Press, television and dozens of supporters attended his shop to join
Dave's celebration of 1,827 days of defiance. The occasion was also taken to
launch a report by the Customary Measures Society; click
Stephen's butchers shop window, full of produce marked up in only pounds and
Irish Government admits no consultation held on metric
signs (December 23rd,
The Irish government has
admitted that no consulation was held with the motoring industry on to its
decision to convert the country's road signs from miles to metric. It has also
admitted that it has not conducted any surveys or opinion polls to establish
the public's understanding of metric or, indeed, whether the Irish public even
want metric road signs. These revelations came about during a series of
questions put by BWMA to Ireland's Department of Transport (for the full set of
questions and answers, click here).
To inform people of the metric
change, planned for 20 January 2005, the Department of Transport has launched a