In the traditional run up to Christmas, nice to see the stores are already stocking their Christmas items (absurdly early, quite sickeningly early in my view), it should come as no surprise to learn that Nanny has launched her own traditional" attempt to put the mockers on the event.
In the old days, high streets up and down the country would be festooned with coloured lights and Christmas decorations; adding a little cheer to the gloomy December night sky. Unfortunately, Nanny has a belief that thousands of people have been killed an injured by falling decorations and electrical short circuits. As such she and the health and safety Gestapo have so tied the process of mounting a light display up in red tape, that many councils can simply not afford to put them up.
The Federation of Small Businesses says that the rules and requirements introduced by Nanny and the Gestapo are making insurance premiums too expensive for councils and traders.
Insurers, as is the norm, insist on strict adherence to health and safety guidelines. These guidelines require councils to use expensive specialist equipment to test the safety of light fittings.
Ladders are, of course banned, council workers have to hire hydraulic platforms.
Every light fitting must also undergo a "pull test", using specialist equipment to make sure it is strong enough. Lampposts are also now banned from being used as a hanging point for decorations, they are "unsafe".
Stephen Alambritis, of the Federation of Small Businesses, said:
"The festive period is looking darker
and bleaker year on year
Britain is facing a Christmas blackout this year.
The sense of pride a good festive display
can instill on a town centre is immeasurable.
Spiralling costs and exhaustive safety
concerns are ruining the festive spirit."
That is because Nanny doesn't give a stuff about Christmas, or about people having fun. Dictatorships throughout history, have been more than happy to ban or highjack a particular festival in order to use it for their own ends (eg Nanny's lickspittles in Birmingham, some years ago renamed Christmas "Winterval").
North Somerset Council have told traders in Clevedon that lights can no longer be attached to lampposts or buildings, therefore there will be no lights this year.
The council, as befitting a local council, have absolved themselves of any responsibility and blame a new code of practice. Its spokesman, Nick Yates, said:
"There is a code of practice which has to be followed
regarding the installation of Christmas lights.
The lighting columns are concrete and it is
not possible to attach lights to them."
A small point, Mr Yates, codes of practice are simply codes of practice; they are not mandatory. The council, if it had the will and the cajones, could simply elect not to follow the code of practice. However, as with all councils, they adopt the zero risk approach because they are weak, untrained and unsuited for their roles.
You cannot zeroise risk, Nanny and her lackeys have yet to grasp that important point!
Bodmin council, in Cornwall, have issued an edict ordering that a pressure gauge be used to test all 150 bolts which hold lights or cables around the town.
This must be carried out by two workmen in a cherry picker, which will cost the authority £1,200 in training fees, plus their wages and the cost of the equipment. To test the bolts the town centre roads have to be closed for a day, and then closed again while the lights are put up.
Kim Roscoe, council spokesman, said:
"Health and safety requirements have
greatly increased the costs.
Bodmin will not be the same without its
Christmas lights, and it is particularly
galling as last year was the best ever."
In Sandwell, Worcestershire, traders have been told that lights cannot be hung across the widths of roads, because of fears that cables may break.
Last year Scarborough Council cancelled the celebrity switch-on, because of police objections on various health and safety issues.
There will be no lights in Northampton, because the council cannot afford them.
The good old boys in the Association of British Insurers are quick to cover their backsides. A spokesman said that, because of an increasingly litigious culture, the cost of the liability cover was increasing.
"Insurance is a risk-based product
and a high proportion of that risk is liability.
If councils are protecting themselves from being
sued by a private party then the policies will be expensive."
Can someone from Nanny's little world please tell me how many people in the UK have been injured, or killed, in the last 50 years by public Christmas decorations?
I am willing to bet the number is but a handful.
As to how we got ourselves into this mess, I am afraid it's a combination of a number of factors:
- Greed of the insurance companies, who now regularly quote a minimum £5M figure for any public event
- Weakness of local councils in not challenging the quotes of the insurance companies
- Greed of individual citizens who sue for the slightest injury or accident
- Greed of the ambulance chasing private injury law firms, who proactively encourage people to sue
- Nanny and her lackeys in the health and safety Gestapo pushing through countless regulations that are ill thought through, and are designed to restrict people's daily lives rather than enhance the quality of their lives
- Laughably poor quality local councils, feeble minded, weak in spirit and ill trained to understand or manage risk issues. They instead choose to adopt the "safe" zero risk approach