Somerset County Council and Sedgemoor District Councils have jointly responded to criticism from local Burnham-On-Sea people about a council-led group’s safety advice that has prompted the residents of Trinity Close to halt their Christmas lights charity fundraising.
As first reported here, a charity collection won’t take place this year and yellow parking restriction cones will also not be set up along roads leading up to Burnham’s Trinity Close, where residents display thousands of festive lights. It follows advice from the Sedgemoor Safety Advisory Group.
Scores of local people have spoken out on Burnham-On-Sea.com’s Facebook page, criticising the safety advisory group for prompting the changes.
However, a spokesman for Somerset County Council and Sedgemoor District Councils told Burnham-On-Sea.com on Thursday evening: “We’ve always been pleased to support the residents of Trinity Close with their fantastic Christmas display and worked with them last year to implement permanent traffic orders to help improve the parking situation.”
“As the display has grown in popularity we have provided advice through the Sedgemoor Safety Advisory Group to ensure they are aware of all aspects of running a safe event, not only for themselves but for all the spectators.”
“We would like to make it clear we have not advised the residents to change the display or to stop collecting money for charity. The advice given to them was a reminder that that anyone putting out traffic cones in the road needs to be accredited for their own safety.”
“Cones that are not placed in the correct positons for the amount of traffic can become more of a hazard, rather than a help in managing the traffic flow. There are many options for this, including using accredited volunteers who would be pleased to support a popular charity event.”
“This advice is well intended and we are happy to work with the organisers to support their plans for the future.”
The Trinity Close residents’ decision not to proceed with the charity collection or parking restrictions has been outlined in a letter distributed to home owners in the surrounding area this week.
The letter says: “For the past few years, yellow cones have been used on Trinity Rise, Pizey Avenue and into Mountbatten Close to restrict parking during December.”
“Initially, this was done after consultation with the local Police who lent us yellow no-parking cones, hoping to improve pedestrian safety and access to homes.”
“However, this year the Sedgemoor Safety Advisory Group (SAG) has passed on a statement from a member of the Somerset Highways Department saying that they cannot condone the use of cones, affirming that ‘should an incident occur as a result of your actions (placing the cones), you could be held liable.’”
“Therefore, those of us in Trinity Close will not be putting any yellow cones out this year. It is worth noting, however, at no point has SAG made any other suggestions for improving safety or access to our homes.”
“SAG describes the display of lights on private homes with the provision of a charity collection as ‘an event’. In order to avoid the ramifications that accompany an event, there will be no advertised switch-on, no media involvement at our instigation, no collecting box, and the switching on and off will be individual to each resident.”
“In short, there will be no Trinity Lights display for charity this year. However, the lights will be displayed by those who do them for personal enjoyment.”
Safety Advisory Groups were set up across the UK in the aftermath of the Hillsborough Stadium Disaster by Lord Justice Taylor. The groups consist of Police, Fire and Rescue, Ambulance services and councils and their role is to give comprehensive safety advice to event organisers.