'Not health and safety gone mad' - council defends refusal to give out litter picks
PUBLISHED: 08:00 23 February 2019
Volunteers have slammed 'ridiculous' North Somerset Council after it refused to provide them with litter picks on health and safety grounds.
Emma Harris, Annette Goold and Donna Britton, from Weston, began organising litter picks last year after growing tired of the town’s untidy streets.
After voicing their concerns at a public meeting, North Somerset councillors offered to sponsor their clean-ups by providing for the necessary equipment.
Their next event, which was set to take place on Weston Beach and the Coronation Estate, in Worle, attracted a number of volunteers who were eager to help the three friends clean up the town.
However, the women were later forced to cancel after the council reneged on its original offer to pay for equipment due to health and safety concerns.
Emma, aged 41, described the council’s reaction as ‘unhelpful’.
She said: “We were forced to call off the litter pick after the council told us it was unable to provide equipment.
“They told us we needed insurance and the correct documentation.
“They seemed to be worried someone would hurt themselves with a litter pick; like it would take someone’s eye out.
“It’s ridiculous. You would think they would welcome and encourage help from the community but if it’s doesn’t make the council look good, they don’t seem to want to know.
North Somerset Council described its decision as ‘entirely sensible’.
Its spokesman said: “We want to support these community-minded people who want to do something to make their local area better.
“If they are doing things on our land we need to know so we can provide equipment and make arrangements to take away the rubbish they collect.
“We do have a duty of care and need to make sure people do not put themselves in situations where they could be in danger – when working near roads or water courses for example.
“This is certainly not a case of health and safety gone mad but a sensible course of action to make sure people stay safe.
Emma said the three friends were able to carry out the litter pick on their own with help from a business.
She added: “Thankfully, Shaws Chemist, in Moorland Road, offered to pay for our equipment and the litter pick was able to go ahead.”