Farmer selling veg with honesty box must comply with EU Regs

A bit old, 6 December 2008, couldn't find it posted when searching ARRSE, and I realise that EU Regs have overtaken the event, however it does hightlight the jobsworth attitude that has taken hold in council departments since New (Marxist) Labour came to power.

If this has been done, before please PM me rather than replying to the thread in order that I might delete it.

The Telegraph
A man who sells leftover vegetables from his garden to passers-by has been ordered to comply with European rules on weights and measures.

Telegraph | Dec 6, 2008

By Laura Donnelly

The Northumberland landowner, who leaves baskets of surplus vegetables at the end of his driveway, was amazed to receive a warning from trading standards officials after they spotted an honesty box next to his stall.

They ordered James Cookson, who says he takes between £5 and £10 a week selling vegetables that would otherwise have gone to waste, to meet European Union requirements governing the sale of fresh foods.

Officials from Northumberland County Council told him the parsnips, spinach and leeks grown in his walled garden should be sold by metric weight, following EU rules, and sent him four pages of guidance.

Mr Cookson, who owns Meldon Park Estate, near Morpeth, where he lives with his wife and young family, said he was stunned to receive the warning from the council.

He said: “We sold five parsnips from the stall last week and there was £1 in the honesty box. The letter is laughable. I have not got a clue about why the trading standards department has got involved, unless someone has reported us.

“They appear to be saying we should be selling parsnips by the kilo rather than just pricing them individually. I have got better things to kick up a fuss about, but it just tickles my sense of humour that someone has bothered to write an official letter about something like this,” Mr Cookson added.

The father of three, whose family has owned the estate since 1832, ran a farm shop until recently, when it closed due to lack of trade.

Mr Cookson said he decided to set up the small stall at the end of his drive so the fresh vegetables from his garden did not go to waste, labelling bags of them with prices, and relying on the honesty of passers-by to leave cash in a piggy bank.

He said: “It is not a business, just a way of offering vegetables to others and preventing them going to waste. The vegetables are bought by people going to and from the local pub. If customers don’t like it, they don’t have to buy.”

Last weekend he received the letter from Northumberland County Council informing him that a trading standards officer had visited the stall, and informing him that “most fruit and vegetables are required to be sold by weight”. It was accompanied by four pages of guidance on the rules governing weights and measures, setting out the European Union requirements.

A spokeswoman for the county council said a trading standards officer had come across Mr Cookson’s vegetable stall during a past inspection of Meldon Park’s farm shop.

She said: “The advice that was given in the letter was to help explain how to sell fruit and vegetables in the correct manner to meet national guidelines. Even small stalls have the same responsibilities as large retailers, but we are not pursuing the stall owner for any wrongdoing; we are offering advice and guidance on how to meet the produce-selling requirements.”

Under EU legislation introduced eight years ago, market traders and shopkeepers in Britain are only permitted to sell loose fruit and vegetables using metric measures, unless they are individually priced.

Since then a string of traders, dubbed the “Metric Martyrs” have been prosecuted for selling produce using imperial measures.

In October, after Janet Devers, a market stallholder in London’s East End was convicted of eight offences of selling in pounds and ounces, leaving her with a criminal record and thousands of pounds to pay in costs, the Government said local authorities would be warned not to pursue such cases in future.

Innovations Secretary John Denham is due to issue guidance within months ordering councils not to take traders to court for “essentially minor offences” such as using imperial scales.

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