Issued By
Durham County Council



People in County Durham are being warned to avoid getting ripped off when they keep the home fire burning.

Durham County Council's Consumer Services are urging people to watch out for short measures when they buy solid fuel.

Over recent years, officers have received complaints and detected a number of solid fuel traders supplying short weight.

Phillip Holman, the County Council's Head of Consumer Services, said people should be cautious when choosing a supplier and buy only from those who are well established, have properly marked vehicles, are based locally and are members of the Approved Coal Merchants Scheme.

"Our officers will investigate complaints and, in addition, we will be carrying out routine spot checks on coal yards and solid fuel delivery vehicles in the County," he said.

"We have written to over 40 local traders reminding them of their obligations under current weights and measures law.

"Although the vast majority of suppliers are reputable traders, it is an area that can attract a rogue element who rip people off, normally by supplying short weight fuel.

"They take advantage of the fact that it's not easy for a customer to check whether they have received the correct amount," he said.

Anyone who believes they have received a short weight delivery can complain to Consumer Services on 0191 383 3589.

Councillor Don Ross, deputy leader of the County Council, said:  "We want to work with and advise solid fuel suppliers and their customers so that past problems with deliveries can be reduced."

Note to News Editors:  For further information contact Peter Fleming, Assistant Head of Consumer Services on 0191 383 3584 or Chris Cooper, divisional manager, on 0191 383 4468.

The supply of solid fuel is controlled under the Weights and Measures Act 1985 which requires solid fuel to be sold by net weight in prescribed quantities of 25kg, 50kg or multiples of 50kg, and specifies required markings and documentation requirements for vehicles carrying solid fuel for sale.

The Act also specifies offences for selling 'short weight' fuel and using false or unjust weighing and measuring equipment.