This Brulines storm is set to rumble on

By Simon Clarke

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags National measurement office Barrel Keg

Clarke (R): strong views
Clarke (R): strong views
Simon Clarke, licensee at the Eagle Ale House in Battersea and Fair Pint member, gives his view on Brulines.

Given the abuse flung at the system's accuracy by tenants accused of buying out, and the criticism placed upon it by the previous select committees, it seems finally that Brulines' equipment is to be tested out by the National Measurement Office (NMO).

One would think, if a company had confidence in the accuracy of its products, that it would engage the NMO and require a full and public testing of the equipment. Secret testing to be paid for by the very company seeking the endorsement in itself fuels the fire of suspicion that this is nothing more than an attempt to enable manipulation of the testing conclusions into a positive spin.

Presumably, Brulines has provided information to the NMO in respect of the practicalities and circumstances under which cask and keg beer is dispensed. In effect, indirectly, Brulines has dictated the conditions under which the NMO is to test.

GMB has made a Freedom of Information request to disclose the NMO's findings. It will come as no surprise that the NMO appears to have had its hands tied by the very nature of its

instruction from Brulines and the request has apparently been denied.

Brulines will more than likely publish only a few excerpts of the testing report, which may portray a positive endorsement of its product. This does nothing to boost the confidence that tenants seek in the system.

Back in November 2009, the Fair Pint Campaign commissioned a report, undertaken by SGS (an NMO-accredited tester, as it happens), in respect of the Brulines equipment. That report was submitted to the select committee in its entirety and was scathing of the equipment's accuracy. Apparently, an "accuracy tolerance" is acceptable, I disagree. If a system is to be used, and fines attached to the information it collects, nothing short of 100% accuracy is adequate in my view.

The average pub dispenses around 200 barrels a year. With a 5% tolerance this equates to a potential fine of around £2,000 (£200 liquidated damages x 10 barrels) plus the administration charge of £300 and VAT, even if no beer was ever bought out!

So, "Mr Average Tenant", obeying your tie obligations, you now have a fine of around £2,350, an accusation of buying out, and therefore a breach of your lease terms. Your family home, place of work, livelihood and investment are all in jeopardy because of an "acceptable" accuracy tolerance. I consider if it's not 100% accurate it's false and unjust and not fit for the purpose to which it is being used.

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