A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Update on the "metric martyr" case

I've just had some further detail on the Janet Devers prosecution by Hackney Council from colleagues on the council executive, which I thought would be of interest given the number of responses to my post earlier this week.

It turns out there were two sets of different charges, selling by the bowl and not using metric weights.

Selling by the bowl

The argument against Hackney on this is that everyone does it, the customer can see what is being bought and can therefore judge whether what they are getting is fair. As part of the investigation, Hackney officers bought a series of goods sold in bowls from a number of different stalls to find out if this was true. By weighing the amounts and then working out the price per kg, they found that when grapes were being sold for example, the price varied from 94p per kilo to a staggering £2.30 per kg. So customers can't see what they're getting when compared to other bowls and that is why the legislation is clear that you can't sell certain goods by the bowl.

Not using metric

Customers and traders can ask to buy, and sell goods, in Imperial. If you ask for a pound of apples, you can be sold a pound of apples. The law only requires that the trader uses metric scales. In the cases that have gone to court, the traders refused to do so. This isn't about stopping people buying using measurements and weights that they're used to, it's about creating an even playing ground. Most traders have complied with the legislation - so why should a minority who refuse to comply be allowed to get away with it?

Hackney's officers are there to enforce the law as it stands. The public wouldn't be comfortable with individual officers deciding what laws they would or not would enforce. Weights & measures work is a tiny fraction of the work of our trading standards and they do a huge amount of good work e.g. clamping down on unhygienic premises. They have been issuing guidance on these matters to traders since 1994 - it is regrettable that a prosecution had to take place - a huge amount of effort went into trying not to go down that road.

26 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shame you didn't enforce the law when it came to kiddie fiddler Mark Trotter.

11:20 am, October 17, 2008

 
Blogger Hughes Views said...

They'll always be attention seekers happy to go to court for their "noble" causes and their thiry seconds of fame...

12:06 pm, October 17, 2008

 
Anonymous dirty european socialist said...

http://dirtyeuropeansocialist.blogspot.com/

12:55 pm, October 17, 2008

 
Anonymous dirty european socialist said...

Cameron has connections to the banking elites.

1. Sir Ewen Cameron, who was the London head of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank (now HSBC) played key roles in discussions led by the Rothschilds with the Japanese central banker (later Prime Minister) Takahashi Korekiyo concerning the selling of war bonds during the Russo-Japanese war. With him the Camerons planned WW2 to make money for the elites.

2. The tory leader himself worked for banks in Singapore. His connections to the banking eliters run deep. He himself was employed for three months in Hong Kong. Duting this time hewas indocrinated by the Hong Kong white bankers as a slave of their interests du to his addiction to chinese opium.

3. Cameron was working for Lamont at the time of Black Wednesday, when pressure from currency speculators forced the Pound sterling out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism. So imagine what his connections where the tories threw away billions of quid for whom? During this time he and his buddies made a small fortune of 4 billion pounds with his buddies in the banking elites, with insider dealingh over the deal. Cameron sneered at the journalists who asked where has all the money gone he replied " Do not worry oiks, it has gone to pay for me opium habit and all me whores in the city".

4. When Cameron was 11, Mrs Gordon Getty flew her son Peter, grandson of the oil billionaire John Paul Getty and four of his classmates to the United States to celebrate his birthday. Cameron was one of the classmates chosen to accompany him. Cameron sneered his way into the friendship of Getty to steal his money. Getty now has no money. The tory stole it off him to build islands in the carribean with his security guards.

5. Returning from Hong Kong he visited Moscow and a Yalta beach in the Soviet Union. The tory leader's elitists buddies founded the soviet union, they also destoryed it to take even more power. Putin is really camerons old butler.

6. He was also a member of the student dining society the Bullingdon Club, which has a reputation for an outlandish drinking culture associated with boisterous behaviour and damaging property. Rather like the USA skull and bones club of elites.

12:56 pm, October 17, 2008

 
Anonymous Luke Hitler said...

Luke

Why don't you all tell us the real reason the council is harrassing the traders on Ridley Road? Is it because you want to redevelop the site handing over the land to private developers? Well good luck in this economic climate and judging by how the council recently faired at the Magistrates Court when a trader with 45 years experience working at the market successfull appealed against Hackney council revoking his trading license you don't have a chance.
Mr Bonner has had a stall at Ridley Road for 45 years, shame on you

Read all about the council's shameful behaviour at http://opendalston.blogspot.com/

1:47 pm, October 17, 2008

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

No it isn't.

The council thinks Ridley Road is a great market and wants to see it continue to thrive.

So does the Hackney Labour Party. From a purely partisan political view what you suggest would be insane for Labour - our core BME supporters use the market and love it, whereas selling the land to private developers would probably put a load of Tory and/or Green voting yuppies into the middle of a Labour ward.

It isn't harassment to expect traders to obey the law. One of the reasons why Hackney has often been in a mess in the past is the misconception that the rule of law stops east of the A10 and a merry state of anarchy prevails. One of the ways in which you squeeze out major crime, as shown in New York, is by zero tolerance of all the minor law and rule breaking too.

2:29 pm, October 17, 2008

 
Anonymous stephen said...

Customers and traders can ask to buy, and sell goods, in Imperial. If you ask for a pound of apples, you can be sold a pound of apples. The law only requires that the trader uses metric scales. In the cases that have gone to court, the traders refused to do so. This isn't about stopping people buying using measurements and weights that they're used to, it's about creating an even playing ground. Most traders have complied with the legislation - so why should a minority who refuse to comply be allowed to get away with it?

As someone who vehemently disagrees with nearly everything you post, Luke, that seems an entirely fair assessment to me. I can see nothing wrong in having a standardised scheme of weights and measures. In fact there is everything to commend the idea ad little to discommend it! Provided that traders are free to transact in lbs and oz for the benefit of those who would prefer to deal in those antique measures, what's the problem?

3:20 pm, October 17, 2008

 
Anonymous stephen said...

One of the ways in which you squeeze out major crime, as shown in New York, is by zero tolerance of all the minor law and rule breaking too

And now you've lost me by completely over-stating the case. The reason for enforcing weights and measures law is for the protection of consumers not because a few idiosyncratic traders are the vanguard of organised crime. It is the same hysterical mentality that thinks that locking innocent people up for six weeks is going to achieve anything positive.

3:28 pm, October 17, 2008

 
Anonymous stephen said...

Btw, anyone know the latest on Mugabe?

I do wish they'd leave the poor man alone - he's done nothing wrong.

I'd rather live under Mugabe than Brown, any day!

4:12 pm, October 17, 2008

 
Anonymous Rich said...

Still very petty though isn't it Luke. What a waste of tax payers money....blimey.

4:30 pm, October 17, 2008

 
Anonymous Rich said...

No more boom and bust"

Watch this very amusing

4:45 pm, October 17, 2008

 
Blogger Quink said...

Can you answer one thing, Luke?

You tell us that the investigation into selling by the bowl revealed that prices per kilo varied greatly, depending on the stall. Were any of the other traders prosecuted for selling by the bowl, or was action taken solely against Mrs Devers?

If action was taken only against Mrs Devers, why were other traders not similarly penalised?

5:24 pm, October 17, 2008

 
Anonymous My name is Rio said...

I'm afraid the arguement against selling by the bowl is bollocks. The price would vary that much from shop to shop even between supermarkets. There are cheaper grapes and more expensive grapes, there are fresh grapes ande there are grapes that are a bit past their peak condition - you are likely to find all types on a market. The bowl system allows traders to take these things into account when deciding how much to put into the bowl.

The whole point is that you can see exactly what you are getting - prosecute any traders that won't let you have a look at the stuff hidden at the bottom of the bowl I say.

Often when you buy stuff by weight the trader will pick the produce for you - sometimes giving you manky stuff, far better to see exactly what you are getting I say.

Without being funny most of the shoppers in Ridley Road, and some of the traders aint that hot with the old lingo. Bowls make the shopping experience more like that of a self service shop and much easier for people without English.

Anyone detect the Grapes of Wrath?

6:33 pm, October 17, 2008

 
Anonymous Rich said...

I don't know what markets you lot shop in but up here most of our farmers markets are fantastic. You get what you pay for and if its cheap generally it's crap.

I always thought that markets around London were some of the best in the UK? Maybe I'm wrong but I'm shocked to hear about the tales of hiding rotten fruit at the bottom of the bowl. If this is happening then it should be stopped as it will bring local markets into disrepute and the end result is more customers for Tescos and less trade for honest stall holders.

I don't see the French or Germans selling crap produce on their markets so why is it acceptable here. People should have pride in British produce and they should be selling it in peak condition.

I think the council would be better spending their time in getting decent traders on stalls in the first place rather than del boys.

8:36 pm, October 17, 2008

 
Anonymous Kier Hardie RIP said...

"our core BME supporters use the market and love it, whereas selling the land to private developers would probably put a load of Tory and/or Green voting yuppies into the middle of a Labour ward,

You are mistaken Luke. Most of the trendies who move into Hackney are right on meeja types who love New Labour and most importantly pay their council tax

9:14 pm, October 17, 2008

 
Blogger Laban said...

I'm depressed, though I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, at Mr Akehursts justification for criminalising the use of British weights and measures.

"Most traders have complied with the legislation - so why should a minority who refuse to comply be allowed to get away with it?"

The voice of power. "Everyone else has obeyed us, what's YOUR problem ?"

Allowed to "get away" with - what exactly ? Using the measures that have been in use here for the last thousand years ? How dare she !

And as for "one of the ways in which you squeeze out major crime, as shown in New York, is by zero tolerance of all the minor law and rule breaking too", I believe William Bratton's police force were concerned about graffiti, panhandling, riding the subway with no ticket, littering, drunkenness, pickpocketing, soliciting, petty theft - not selling veg from Imperial scales.

Your analogy with 'zero tolerance' is either cynical or idiotic. Either way it does you no credit.

11:46 pm, October 17, 2008

 
Anonymous Alexander said...

Thought you might find this link interesting Luke.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/3219094/Metric-martyrs-win-fight-to-save-imperial-measures.html

12:29 am, October 18, 2008

 
Anonymous John said...

There are cheaper grapes and more expensive grapes, there are fresh grapes ande there are grapes that are a bit past their peak condition - you are likely to find all types on a market.

How confusing and inefficient! Get on to Hackney Trading Standards and ensure that they enforce a single type of grape, to avoid people getting ripped off.

Meanwhile, the Government does Luke in on this one, with spectacular timing.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7677438.stm

3:41 am, October 18, 2008

 
Anonymous Defend The IQ-Challenged said...

Leave the poor lad alone, you horrible lot. It's not Luke's fault that Hackney Council and Hackney Labour Party are so well trusted by Gordon Brown that they were allowed to press ahead with the prosecution at the same time that the Government was drawing up instructions to councils for nobody to be prosecuted as a metric martyr.

1:45 pm, October 18, 2008

 
Blogger Curbishlyauto said...

It would be nice if Hackney council and Luke Akehurst publically apologised for the way they treated Mrs Devers.

This was a malicious and vindictive prosecution that achieved precisely nothing and has left a woman criminalised, with her fingerprints and DNA recorded.

Hackney council, The ruling Labour elite and those who supported this prosecution should hang their heads in shame.

1:54 pm, October 18, 2008

 
Anonymous JuliaM said...

"Hackney council, The ruling Labour elite and those who supported this prosecution should hang their heads in shame."

I doubt any of the above are capable of feeling such an emotion as shame - they are right, everyone else is wrong. It's like expecting human emotions from Hannibal Lecter...

2:49 pm, October 18, 2008

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So supporting the prosecution people selling in pounds and ounces is the mark of someone 'on the moderate wing of the party?'

I'd hate to meet the extremists.

Hey, never mind - there's always be the BME bloc once you've finally got rid of the cockneys.

3:48 pm, October 18, 2008

 
Anonymous Rich said...

I wouldn't worry just a couple of years left of these muppets

10:59 pm, October 18, 2008

 
Blogger Sam Tarran said...

The public wouldn't be comfortable with individual officers deciding what laws they would or not would enforce.

Recommended reading for you:

http://eureferendum2.blogspot.com/2008/10/law-is-law.html

1:13 am, October 19, 2008

 
Anonymous stephen said...

Allowed to "get away" with - what exactly ? Using the measures that have been in use here for the last thousand years ? How dare she !

But she's not being criminalised for that, is she Laban. She is being criminalised for refusing to sell in metric measures. No one is stopping her from selling in lbs and oz if that is what the customer wants.

11:00 am, October 19, 2008

 
Anonymous Rich said...

More on councils

oh dear

10:15 pm, October 19, 2008

 

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