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Health & Safety Gone Mad at Yorkshire’s Tour de France?

The Tour de France is coming to Yorkshire; Masham, to be exact. However, a month after bunting was hung in the town’s Market Place, and less than three weeks before 20,000 visitors are expected to visit Masham to see the race, it is being reported that Health & Safety officials at North Yorkshire County Council have ordered knitted bunting to be taken down as it was causing lampposts to lean.

The bunting, featuring yellow, green, white and polka dot jumpers to represent the winners’ jerseys in the race, had been hung in Masham, near Ripon, by Harrogate Borough Council following an appeal by the authority to decorate the district.  

Over a period of six months hundreds of schoolchildren, women’s institutes, craft groups and knitters from as far away as Australia and the Arctic Circle created 23,453 jumpers for the display.

Now, residents and traders have been stunned to see hundreds of the knitted jumpers being taken down by tree surgeons.

North Yorkshire County Council, which owns the lampposts, said it had asked the Borough Council to remove the bunting on safety grounds. It had believed the weight of the bunting increased after rain, causing the lampposts to lean.

One resident said “its health and safety gone crazy. Sheep don't fall over when they get wet, so why should lampposts?”

A spokesman for the Borough Council said that an inspection of the lampposts had revealed damage to the base of one of them, but said that they are now looking to see what other options are available to have them re-fixed elsewhere in the town so that residents can actively support the Tour de France.

A County Council spokesman made it clear that bunting was welcome on buildings, or between trees, but not hung between lampposts for safety reasons.

The Health and Safety Executive had previously given guidance on bunting following issues that arose during the Queen’s Jubilee two years ago. At that time hanging lightweight (paper) bunting from lamp posts was considered a low risk activity and the (then) suggestion that it may cause lampposts to fall over was considered ‘ridiculous’.

In Masham, the Council’s view is that it is better to be safe than sorry.

Tracey Graham is a Personal Injury Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Manchester.

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