Comment: When safety concerns go to far

First published in Opinion The Westmorland Gazette: Photograph of the Author by

LOCAL authorities undoubtedly mean well, but in trying to do their best they can sometimes appear spoilsports.

That seems to have happened in the case of South Lakeland District Council, which has banned decorative pottery from a children’s playground in Ulverston.

The pottery was installed at Mill Dam Park by schoolchildren and their parents, taking a full day over the task. But SLDC officials took down the display earlier this month because the pottery was deemed unsafe. Chief executive Lawrence Conway insists there was no chance it would be put back.

What seems to be at the root of the problems is that the group which organised the display – Bugs – does not meet with the council’s approval.

“At the moment, Bugs is a random group of people with no guidance or governance,” said Mr Conway, who cites health and safety as his prime concern.

However, the man who helped to set up the group, Dr Geoff Dellow, is understandably annoyed, calling the council ‘out of touch’.

What has helped to fuel the dispute between Bugs and the authority is that a see-saw which has caused ‘a number of accidents’ has not been repaired by SLDC, despite claims that council officers promised a solution.

If true, this would be ironic given their safety concerns over the pottery. A sensible move would be to officially recognise Bugs as a representative group of the local community so such displays can be arranged with the council’s blessing and guidance. That way SLDC might stop itself from looking silly.

There are far more serious health and safety issues to be concerned about in South Lakeland, especially when young people insist on risking their lives by jumping off river bridges or families ignore safety signs and venture out on to the treacherous Morecambe Bay sands.

On the latter danger, thankfully there is evidence that The Westmorland Gazette’s Safety on the Sands campaign is already having some impact by giving local people more confidence to contact emergency services when they see people going out on to the sands.

Comments (1)

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8:54am Thu 1 Aug 13

BillyL says...

Why not ask SLDC for the risk assessment they undertook to show that the installation presented a significant risk to health and safety?
There must be one or the significant risk that the installation could be damaging could not have been established. If no assessment exists it is surely the case that someone didn't like it and used the H&S reason given as support for their unreasonable action.
Why not ask SLDC for the risk assessment they undertook to show that the installation presented a significant risk to health and safety? There must be one or the significant risk that the installation could be damaging could not have been established. If no assessment exists it is surely the case that someone didn't like it and used the H&S reason given as support for their unreasonable action. BillyL
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