ELY: council refuses to put up charity Aquafest banner over health and safety fears
PUBLISHED: 15:09 15 June 2012
HEALTH and safety officials at Cambridgeshire County Council have stopped two charity groups from putting up a banner on Ely High Street in case passers-by are injured.
For years, both the Rotary Club of Ely and the Ely Hereward Rotary Club have put up an Aquafest banner over the city’s High Street to advertise the annual charity extravaganza.
This year, however, county council chiefs have refused to allow the banner to be put up in case it falls and injures pedestrians walking underneath.
A spokesman for the authority said: “Following an assessment by structural engineers working on behalf of the council, the advice was that the fixings on the High Street were insufficient to support this banner.
“We fully appreciate that previously there hasn’t been a problem but we are responsible for anything that goes over a public highway and the advice to us was that unfortunately the fixings were not suitable.”
The council’s decision comes in the wake of a ruling by the Health and Safety Executive last year in which a builders firm was fined more than £16,000 after Christmas decorations put up in St Neots came free from a building and injured shoppers.
Following the ruling, the authority calling in engineers to review all fixings for decorations and banners across the county, with many subsequently ruled no longer fit for use.
According to the Rotary clubs, Aquafest, which takes place on July 1, is one of the biggest community events in East Cambridgeshire, raising thousands of pounds for charity over its 34 years.
People stream into the city in their thousands to enjoy a day-long mix of entertainment, food, music and the ever-popular raft race down at Jubilee Gardens.
Mike Copping from the Rotary Club of Ely confirmed that an Ely farmer had kindly offered to erect the banner on his land near Cambridge Road which, he said, would hopefully prove a good substitute for their regular High Street spot.