Like most parents with young children, our bank holiday weekend was full of some good quality family time. It’s been good as well over the summer to see local attractions from the amusements and beach at Dymchurch to the Coastal Park in Folkestone full of people enjoying themselves. We all know that young children can rather hurl themselves into things, and the odd bump and bruise is inevitable, and within reason is all part of growing up. That’s why I, like many of you, get concerned when you read reports of the Law Courts allowing parents of an injured child to sue the people who were in charge of the bouncy castle where the incident took place, and a school that made children wear protective goggles to play conkers. It seems that we now live in a society that is over regulated and controlled. Many local organisers also get put off front putting on events because of the daunting prospect of complying with all the rules and regulations and having to take out public liability insurance.
You might be tempted to call for a large public bonfire of regulations, but no doubt such a bonfire would be subject to a lengthy health and safety risk assessment before it could take place.
In a move to fight back about stories of health and safety having gone mad, the Health and Safety Executive (paid for by you and me) runs a monthly myth buster on its website dealing with issues that have been raised in the media. These includes stories about playgrounds being forced to close, or remove pieces of equipment, or teachers not being allowed to apply plasters to children who get a cut or graze at school. In these cases the Health and Safety Executive is able to direct you to a helpful one hundred and twenty page report entitled ‘Managing Risk in Play Provision’, and a seventy-nine page Government document called ‘Guidance on First Aid in Schools’. I’m glad that’s been sorted out!
We do of course need rules and regulations to make sure safety standards are maintained and accidents prevented, but we also need a bit more common sense. Over regulation is not only frustrating, but costly. Much of the extra money that has been taken from us as tax payers in recent years has been poured into compliance and regulation making many of our public services less efficient and more expensive. This has also affected our tax and benefits system where many pensioners, for example, are put off from applying for the pension tax credit because of the length of the forms they have to fill in and the number of pages of tax regulation has doubled in the last 12 years.
In trying to control and monitor everything, Government is in danger of strangling our society, and it’s time we cut back on all this red tape