The health and safety brigade has been at it again – and this time Selsey Town Council is the victim.
Councillors were left flabbergasted when they were told 11 concrete lampposts in the town needed to be analysed and measured – to make sure they were strong enough to carry hanging flower baskets, banners and Christmas lights.
All of the lampposts now need to be ‘certified’ by a structural engineer, which will cost the council an extra £400.
Selsey district and town councillor Roland O’Brien said: “What great danger is there in putting up some hanging baskets to brighten up the town for the summer?
“Sadly, it is the possibility of a greedy claimant suing the local authority, after some minor mishap causes an injury.
“Add to that, the over-zealous and disproportionate application of real (or imaginary) ‘health and safety’ regulations, and it’s a cocktail which makes it increasingly hard for anyone – council, individual or voluntary group – to do things to improve their community.
“We laugh it away, but it’s very damaging to civil society.”
Selsey Town Council was informed of the need to certify the lampposts at its last meeting at the town hall.
The council had signed up to a contract drawn up by West Sussex County Council to get a new lighting contractor in. The new contractors are Scottish and Southern Electric, which is now responsible for street lighting in West Sussex.
Parish clerk Gill Jennings said: “West Sussex County Council put the lighting out to a contractor and its one of the requirements of these new contractors that everything with lamps that has hanging baskets, Christmas lights or banners has to have a certificate to say they are structurally okay.”
The lampposts are being inspected.
Mrs Jennings added: “These are concrete lampposts – they are capable of holding lights, capable of holding baskets.”
Parish clerk for North Mundham and Earnley Louise Chater said: “I knew the regulations came in for the lampposts but it doesn’t affect either North Mundham or Earnley.
“Both villages have only one lamppost each and they don’t have hanging baskets. I know the contractors originally said that nothing was allowed to be hanged from the lampposts.”
East Wittering and Bracklesham Parish Council is also said to have been affected by the new lamppost rules. Other villages could also be involved.
West Sussex County Council declined to comment on the new street lighting contract.