A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Tory hypocrisy on health and safety

Hat-tip to John Spellar MP for spotting the case of pots and kettles in David Cameron calling for an end to the UK's "over-the-top" health and safety culture.

In a speech today, he said this had created a "stultifying blanket of bureaucracy, suspicion and fear". In recent years, he added, children had been told to wear goggles to play conkers and trainee hairdressers had been banned from using scissors


Maybe the Tory researchers who got him in to trouble at PMQs last week should have told him that it is Conservative Councils who lack common sense and are guilty of the worst excesses of health & safety culture.

Forcing children to wear goggles to play conkers.
This story (in it’s latest incarnation – it's a bit of an old chestnut!) hails from a school in East Cheshire which is a Conservative-run LEA. The Health and Safety Executive have said “the dangers of a game of conkers had been exaggerated and there was no national ban”.

Banning Scissors.
It was in a Camden Council run library which is run by a Tory/Lib Dem administration that a woman was refused the loan of a pair of scissors because of health and safety worries.

In other cases –

A school crossing patrol officer was banned from tying tinsel on his lollipop stick by Tory Hampshire County Council because of health and safety fears. Despite protests from parents, council officers banned him from using the tinsel after an anonymous complaint from the public. Lollipop Man Kevin Simpson said that he decorated his stick each Christmas and that he and the school children who use his crossing were in tears over the ruling. Tory Leader Ken Thornber failed to condemn his council officers and meekly promised to “see if a balance can be struck between fun and safety”.

Tory run Barnet bans its Sikh pupils for wearing traditional ‘kirpans’ on health and safety grounds – not recognising that the Kirpan poses no greater risk than scissors or cutlery that exist in the school.

Tory controlled Daventry District Council told a local head teacher to call off a school play to avoid the threat of jail and a £20,000 fine because the school did not have an entertainment licence. The play was not open to the general public and was not going to make a profit although a small entry fee was being charged to raise money for charity. The Tory council said that they were unable to apply any discretion.

Tory controlled Sherborne Council in Dorset branded a pensioner who voluntarily cleared rubbish from a disused allotment adjacent to her own plot a ‘vigilante’ and told her to desist her good deed immediately. They were shamed into apologising after Mrs Dunn attended a council meeting to give councillors a piece of her mind.

Tory Dudley Council have spent more than £5,000 on Braille signs to advise squash players what colour sport shoes are acceptable and tell users about safety on court. The Royal National Institute of Blind People said, “Blind and visually-impaired people are able to play many sports but not squash.” A council spokesperson said, “The signs conform to legislation set out in the Disability Discrimination Act”.

Also in Tory run Dudley roadside snack vans will be forced to close unless they offer healthy alternatives such as salads and low fat yoghurts, environmental health officers from the Tory authority will inspect menus during routine hygiene checks. A council spokesperson said “the aim is to give consumers a wider choice and move away from the sole provision of high calorie, high fat fast foods”. Anyone who fails to meet the strict new standards will lose their street traders licence.

A gardener in Tory run Bromsgrove in Worcestershire who fenced off his allotment with a 3 foot high ring of barbed wire after being targeted by thieves has been ordered to take it down by the Tory council – in case intruders scratch themselves. Mr Malcolm erected the fence in desperation after around £300 worth of equipment was stolen, the council ordered its removal on health and safety grounds.

As Tory Blogger Iain Dale has said...

“I'm not going to rant on about it all being political correctness gone mad (although it is). What it demonstrates is that these councils are presided over by weak politicians who have little control over their officers. It's about time they learned what the word Conservative actually means”.


Blogger Iain Dale said...

Sensible chap, that Iain Dale. Always said so!

6:46 pm, December 01, 2009

Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

Very funny, good work luke!

10:21 pm, December 01, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

balloon punctured methinks

11:00 am, December 02, 2009

Blogger Theo Blackwell's blog said...

My favourite is Tory/Lib Dem Camden banning barbecues on 'elf and safety grounds: http://www.thecnj.co.uk/camden/050307/news050307_01.html

5:30 pm, December 02, 2009

Blogger Theo Blackwell's blog said...

That's http://www.thecnj.co.uk/camden/050307/news050307_01.html

5:30 pm, December 02, 2009

Blogger Theo Blackwell's blog said...

I'll try again



5:31 pm, December 02, 2009

Anonymous Arnold said...

Theo - Are you a shirt lifter? (No offence Iain)

You know, gay - a pillow biter.


10:34 pm, December 02, 2009

Anonymous Nine Bob Nellie said...

Silly Arnold. You should listen more closely. Theo is a "gamer" (Dungeons and Dragons and that sort of thing). Please, ducky, do get with the programme!

1:09 am, December 04, 2009

Blogger Steve Horgan said...

Nice sidestep, the legislation gives rise to these behaviours is flawed, so blame the people on the front line trying to interpret it.

So, according to the voice of Labour there is no problem at all, which means you are supportive of all the actions that you list.

No, wait...

6:28 pm, December 06, 2009

Anonymous Rich said...

Despite health and safety legislation the UK has the worst record for work placed accidents in Europe. I see no need to relax it at all.

If the conservatives want to relax it then they better be prepared for a massive increase in work place accidents.

Those people that moan about health and safety are probably unscrupulous employers penny pinching on safety.

11:09 pm, December 07, 2009

Anonymous Arnold said...

Rich, like you ever did an honest days work eh?

What would you know.


11:23 am, December 09, 2009

Blogger Merseymike said...

Always amusing how people will both moan about health and safety regs but be only too keen to sue.

If people weren't so litigious then many of the over-cautious regulations would not exist

11:30 pm, December 10, 2009

Anonymous Rich said...

Most stuff you hear about health and safety is all second hand and mostly inaccurate. Health and Safety saves money in the long run and a good example of this is asbestos.

There is no acceptable level of risk. Risk can not be tolerated in the workplace. Too many people die in the building trade for taking risks which can always be avoided.

Relaxation of the laws will only hurt British workers even more.

11:41 pm, December 11, 2009


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