We have constant experience from our daily lives, as well as the media, of excessive restrictiveness due to supposed "health and safety concerns." Often those responsible for measures so disproportionate as to be absurd are Councils. Yes, I’m afraid, even Conservative Councils. But there was a message of hope in Saturday’s Telegraph: "Tom Mullarkey, the chief executive of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, insisted that individuals must retain the right to take risks so long as they do not injure others."
If someone who can hardly be portrayed as indifferent to the importance of preventing accidents is prepared to speak out, isn’t it time that councillors stopped cravenly acquiescing to this bureaucratic madness? Often Council officers seem to think stopping something, or spending some vast sum of money, is justified if there is any risk at all. No matter how small the risk. No matter how theoretical the supposed risk is.
Three years ago Michael Gove, now Shadow Children’s Secretary, presented a Channel 5 documentary which looked at:
increasing risk-avoidance culture in Britain, which is stifling
activities and becoming absurd. Looks at how conkers have been deemed dangerous and children banned from playing them, how some hospitals ban home-made food, and how ‘Health and Safety‘ issues and fear of litigation have led to teachers restricting sports and playground games and not doing school trips. Also looks at the effect of compensation culture and at how taking away all elements of risk or pushing at boundaries is actually bad for children."
I hope he remembers that in Government. But in the meantime those of us in power locally should take heart from Tom Mullarkey and insist on a sense of proportion.