Nanny is a fearful old lady, she is easily scared by even the merest mention of risk. That is all well and good, live and let live that's what I always say. Unfortunately, Nanny decides to transfer her fears to the rest of us.
The latest things to scare her are Shetland ponies.
Yes, that's right, Shetland ponies!
Nanny's gimlet eye has fallen upon a herd of 20-year-old Shetland ponies, who reside in the Sussex Horse Rescue animal sanctuary. These ponies have no history of violence or of attacking members of the public. However, Nanny's chums in Horsham District Council have told the sanctuary that it cannot take the ponies to greet children in the street because they are too dangerous.
The council have decreed that Sussex Horse Rescue need an insurance policy of £5M, before the ponies are allowed to mix with human beings on the street.
Horsham District Council are of the belief that a child may be maimed by one of the ponies. Has anyone ever heard of a pony maiming a child???
The charity cannot afford the higher premiums, and will therefore abandon its "meet and greet" scheme which of course used to be one of its best money earners.
Pauline Grant, of Sussex Horse Rescue, said:
"We just can't believe it.
It is going to make a lot of difference to us.
We do it not only to make the money,
we also attract people to our sanctuary.
We have been doing this for 20 years and
we've never had an accident.
We have got two Shetland ponies we use, Sparky and Sinbad,
they are both in their 20s, and two donkeys, Cocoa and Ann.
They are very good-natured."
Nigel Haverson, head of public health and licensing at Horsham District Council, said:
"We have looked at other licensing authorities
and we take advice from insurance and risk people.
Five million pounds is the lowest we can ask for.
When you look at claims settled, they are regularly
four or five million pounds by the time
you take all the costs into account."
A council spokesman added:
"The council is responsible for licensing activities
in Horsham town centre, including charity collections and events.
Licences are required to protect the public in
terms of health and safety and from unfair trade.
A great many such activities take place in Horsham
throughout the year and normally everyone understands
why they need to be fully licensed."
I suspect the "understanding" of which they speak, is in fact a resigned shrug of the shoulders and a "realisation" that the council has them by the gonads.
The council base their demand for insurance cover on the fear that if someone is maimed by a pony, that person will sue the council.
Tell me, why would the council be sued in this case and not the owner of the donkey instead? Is not the council assuming too many responsibilities here?
Why does the insurance premium rank so highly for such a placid creature, and such an unlikely incidence of maiming?
Has a real "risk assessment" by the insurance company really been done; or are the insurance companies merely ripping off the hapless insurees?
Does anyone in our "beloved" and "respected" local councils ever think to ask these questions?
Are members of our local councils simply brain dead automatons?