Britain could be facing a bleak mid-winter as the cost of following health and safety rules is forcing councils to consider scrapping Christmas lights, business leaders have warned. Stringent new regulations and increased insurance premiums have pushed the price of a modest festive display to as much as £25,000, and out of the reach of many town budgets.
This year councils must use a pressure gauge to individually test every bolt holding a cable or light fitting to a wall. Only fully insured professionals can hang the lights and workers must use expensive hydraulic platforms to do the job because ladders are not deemed safe. Stephen Alambritis, from the Federation of Small Businesses, is warning that the country is heading for a “Christmas blackout”. He said: “It is a very sad state of affairs. The festive period is looking darker and bleaker year on year.
Bob Hughes, chairman of the local traders’ association said: “If we need to put anchorage onto any building to hang the lights from, it needs to be 'pull-tested’. “And if any of the anchorage points cause damage to the buildings, then the association has to take responsibility for that, which we cannot do.” Officials in Bodmin, Cornwall, also say they have abandoned their display because it will cost £1,200 in training fees, wages and equipment hire for two workmen to test all 150 bolts in a cherry-picker. In Sandwell, Worcestershire, traders have been told lights cannot be hung across the widths of roads, because of fears the cable may break. [...Snip] Telegraph