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calendar   Friday - November 30, 2007

Santa hit by elf and safety killjoys

WELL HERE WE GO AGAIN WITH HEALTH and SAFETY.  The nanny states socialist cocoon where nobody ever gets hurt. Ever. What never? Well, hardly everrrr.

Tradition has it that Father Christmas travels by sleigh, but it seems even he is not exempt from the diktats of the health and safety police.

They have told one Santa that he must be strapped into a full body harness in case he falls out of his sleigh as it is towed by a Land Rover at the gentle speed of five miles an hour.

Meanwhile, another has been forced to abandon his sleigh altogether, and travel on a rather less magical bus.

Members of the Halesowen and Rowley Regis Rotary Club were told that they would have to raise a four-figure sum to cover the insurance costs of a visit by Father Christmas, until he agreed to belt up.

Barry Wheeler, the president of the West Midlands club, said: “Every year we have made sure Santa gets to go through the town and wave to the children. It just seemed ridiculous, especially because he doesn’t actually ride on the sleigh that often.

“He would be more likely to injure himself getting in and out of the sleigh than actually falling out of it.”

One of the members of the club, which has been organising visits by Father Christmas for the past 20 years, has now taken the sleigh to be fitted with the harness. This means the club saved £200 on its insurance policy and could still go ahead with the event.

However, members said the tough rules took “the magic out of Christmas”.

“We’re going to try to make the belt as discreet as possible,” said Mr Wheeler. “The sleigh ride through the towns starts in December and starts Christmas off for so many people. It would have been such a shame to see it cancelled.”

Kelly Ostler, from the Association of British Insurers which represents about 400 UK insurance companies, said: “This is as much about protecting Santa from other drivers as protecting him from the speed of his own sleigh.”

But Father Christmas has not been so lucky in the Northumbrian town of Alnwick. There, a 30-year tradition of visits to the town by Santa and his sleigh have been brought to an abrupt halt by a similar insurance wrangle.

As usual, the organisers - Alnwick Lions Club - planned to mount the sleigh on a district council trailer. But this year the council has ruled that using the trailer would be too dangerous because Santa is not a council employee, so he would not be covered by its insurance.

Instead, he has had to cancel the tour and will have to ride into town by bus to switch on the Christmas lights. Graham Luke, of the Alnwick Lions, told the Northumberland Gazette newspaper: “It is health and safety. We have become Americanised - that’s the best way of putting it.

“It is very frustrating because it is a tradition that has been going on for so long.”

An Alnwick district council spokesman said: “We always try to help with community projects, but regrettably, this is out of our hands.”

http://tinyurl.com/3x2s2z


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Posted by Drew458   United Kingdom  on 11/30/2007 at 09:47 AM   
Filed Under: • Outrageous •  
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