'Petty' ban on hanging bunting from lampposts
BUNTING has been banned from lampposts in a town centre by council officials who say it is a safety risk.
Burnham-on-Sea Chamber of Trade had hoped to string several hundred metres of red, white and blue flags between street lights in the town centre to add a splash of colour during the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
But the group was told by Somerset County Council, which is in charge of highways, that risk assessments would have to be carried out and the lampposts would have to be "stress tested" before the bunting could be hung up - and that it would also need a licence.
A council spokesman used an example of a child who was killed by a falling lamppost to justify its decision – an incident actually caused by the buried base of a street light being damaged during excavation work.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
The authority's explanation was blasted by the Health and Safety Executive, which stepped into the row last night.
Chamber secretary Jonathan Walter, 49, said: "I cannot see how bunting can be a danger to pedestrians walking below.
"We were only planning to attach it to the lampposts so it would run along the pavement, not across the road.
"It just seems very bureaucratic and we hope it will not spoil the Jubilee celebrations in the town."
The bunting was funded by Burnham-on-Sea and Highbridge Town Council. The chamber planned to pay contractors to put it up.
Chamber members now plan to attach it to shopfronts along the High Street, College Street and Victoria Street instead.
The town has also been prevented from entering the Britain in Bloom competition this year due to restrictions on flower baskets being hung from lampposts.
Burnham-on-Sea Mayor and town council chairman Ken Smout said: "Our clerk contacted Somerset County Council, who said it was not safe to hang the bunting from the lampposts. It is a shame we cannot hang the bunting from the lampposts and it does seem a bit like health and safety gone mad.
"We wanted to do something which had a big visual impact in the town. But the posts are the responsibility of the highways authority and that is their decision."
Local resident James Lynch, 74, said: "We think it is about time to liven up the town – it would be nice to see some decorations for the Jubilee."
His wife Patricia, 69, added: "The council is being absolutely ridiculous – we think they are being petty."
The bunting was part of a jubilee programme including a children's fancy dress procession, a sandcastle building world record attempt, a community picnic and tea party.
Mr Smout added: "There are lots of things going on in Burnham to mark the jubilee and we will not allow the bunting issue to spoil it."
A Somerset County Council spokesman said: "We recommend councils use their existing fixing points for Christmas lights, CCTV cameras or suchlike.
"Last year a lamppost came down in London, killing a child, and it's important we avoid a similar tragedy in Somerset."
The incident the spokesman referred to is the death of 11-month-old Tommy Hollis, who died in 2010 after workmen cut a metal plate supporting the base of a lamppost, which later fell and crushed him.
But HSE chairwoman Judith Hackitt said the council's use of the baby's death to justify a bunting ban was "wholly inappropriate".
She added: "Hanging lightweight bunting from lampposts is a low-risk activity and to suggest that it may cause lampposts to fall over is ridiculous.
"Let's be clear, there's nothing in health and safety law to prevent anyone from celebrating the Queen's Jubilee. The organisers are right to challenge this silly decision."