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Trading Standards: Weights and Measures

How do we know that the weights and measures that we use to check equipment used in trade, are accurate? Trading Standards maintain 'Local Standard' weights and measures of length, in controlled conditions. They are kept under lock and key and have to be handled with special gloves so that their accuracy cannot be affected in any way. The weights and measures (known as "Working Standards") that are used by inspectors to check traders' equipment, are regularly checked against these Local Standards. They in turn are compared with National Standards kept by the National Weights and Measures Laboratory.

All sorts of weighing and measuring equipment can be tested, from thimble measures (used to measure spirits in pubs) to fuel tankers as well as tiny weights for gold jewellery and 60 tonne weighbridges, which weigh lorries. We even check the accuracy of taxi meters to make sure that you're not taken for a ride!

Inspections
We carry out inspections to various places from small bakeries to distributors to petrol forecourts. We can test all weighing equipment on site and request to see records and documentation of previous tests and maintenance of the machines.

Traders may request equipment to be tested, however their may be a fee included for this, so please contact us for more details.

If you receive an invoice in respect of weights and measures work we have undertaken, you can pay this in a number of ways. Find out more on our How to Pay page.

Petrol Forecourts
We carry out inspections and follow up on complaints based on short measure fuel. We have approved equipment to be able to identify whether a pump is giving short measure than what is stated on the display.

There are some things that you must bear in mind before reporting short measure of fuel.

  1. There are prescribed limits of error for fuel, so the pump is allowed to deliver a deficiency but only within the tolerances.
  2. Some pumps now account for temperature. So although 20L may be delivered, your gauge may not look as if you have put that in, this will depend whether the temperature of the fuel is hot or cold. As soon as your engine starts the fuel will warm up or cool down, and will therefore give the correct amount.
  3. The price. If you pay the same amount for fuel each time, then you may get less fuel as the cost of fuel is rising.

Pubs and Restaurants
We can carry out checks, to ensure wine and beer glasses are stamped to ensure pubs give you the required amount, and we ensure the thimbles for wine and spirits are also tested, together with the spirit measuring instruments, which are used to dispense spirits straight from the bottle.

We also carry out tests to ensure draught beer is the right measure and there is no more than 5% allowance for the head of the beer, as this would be short measure.

Supermarkets
Most supermarkets nowadays have meat, fish, delicatessen counters where all this is weighed out on demand. These weighing scales are normally testing in house, but we carry out inspections on the weighing scales and on their pricing.

Overloaded Vehicles
If you own or drive goods vehicles, you should be aware that the maximum load you can carry is restricted to the weight specified on the manufacturers plate.

Trading Standards carries out regular checks on vehicles in conjunction with the Police. If your vehicle is found to be over the specified limit, you face possible prosecution with the chance of gaining a criminal record. You may also be ordered to reduce the weight of your vehicle by offloading some of the cargo before you are allowed to continue. Trading Standards and the Police cannot take possession of those offloaded goods, so you may have to send another vehicle to collect the goods or risk having them stolen from the roadside.

Overloaded goods vehicles cause damage to the roads and adjoining buildings. They are also a danger to other road users because steering and braking are affected.

We use Public Weighbridges to check the weight of vehicles we suspect are overloaded.

Public Weighbridges
There are a number of public weighbridges in Birmingham and the main ones are listed below for your information.

Remember that if you are intending to weigh your loaded vehicle you must use the nearest suitable and available weighbridge from where you start. At times this could mean having to use a weighbridge in a neighbouring area such as Warwickshire, Solihull, Worcestershire or Sandwell.

District

Aston




Kings Norton




Perry Barr




Small Heath




Company

Holborn Waste
313/315 Lichfield Rd

Tel: 0121 327 1046

Waste Disposal Site
Lifford Lane

Tel: 0121 680 2000

Waste Disposal Site
Holford Drive

Tel: 0121 680 2000

Waste Disposal Site
Energy Way
off Small Heath Highway

Tel: 0121 680 2000

Capacity/Size

40 tonnes
12m x 3m



50 tonnes
15m x 2.7m



50 tonnes
15m x 2.7m



40 tonnes
9.1m x 3m



Times

8.00 - 17.00 Mon - Fri
8.00 - 12.00 Sat



7.00 - 17.00 Mon - Fri
8.00 - 11.00 Sat



8.00 - 17.00 Mon - Fri
8.00 - 11.00 Sat



7.00 - 17.00 Mon - Fri
8.00 - 11.00 Sat



Details may change. We recommend that you contact the company first to check opening times and costs before travelling there.

Contact
If you feel you are being given a short measure please contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454040506 or visit www.adviceguide.org.uk. Complaints may be referred to us to investigate.

Guidance for Businesses
Please see our Business Advice page for more information.


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Please note: our offices are closed from 24 December until 5 January.

We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause you, and wish you a Merry Christmas!

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