The BBC and the Mail on Sunday have reported on the latest health and safety absurdity concerning a statue design of the Skegness Jolly Fisherman. In his original portrayal, on the famous poster, the key thing about his welcoming jollity is having outstretched arms. But Lincolnshire County Council proposed that his arms should be constrained to avoid children climbing on them. Another victory for the prigs was for his pipe to be banished.
Cllr Ken Milner has sent me this explanation:
I was contacted several times by the Mail and what I did was pass on the feedback from the meeting with officers at the Skegness Town Council, in which we were told Railtrack would not be happy with arms outstreched in the area where this statue is to stand, we had an incident with the concrete dunes when a young lad rode his bike over them and fell off that claim is still going through and the dunes are covered over with wood, so as you can see everyone is jumpy about anything happening again. Incidentally the contract has not yet been awarded to any company yet the image at the council meeting was on pink paper and it was put into the public domain by a vote of the council, several partners were sent scoring cards and the scores were collated and this image won on safety, long lasting and lack of maintenance, but as I said the contract has not been awarded yet if at all, to conclude Harry the press have put their own spin on this story but that's only to be expected this image should not have been made public at this stage.
It may be that the law should be changed to give greater emphasis to personal responsibility rather than always looking to sue somebody whenever their is an accident. But councils and other public bodies should also so some sense of proportion over the level of risk of being sued.
Are we to say that anything a child could climb and thus possibly hurt themselves falling off should be prohibited from the public realm? On that basis lots of sculpture would have to be removed – as well as ensuring the trees are chopped down in our parks and climbing frames removed from the playgrounds. Bureaucrats will always advise a course of minimum risk. They don't have to worry about being elected. Councillors should take a more balanced approach in whether deciding to accept such advice.
Often risk averseness is heightened when there are several different outfits involved shifting responsibility around. I have asked Network Rail (as Railtrack are now called) for their comments.