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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

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On your marks, get set...

The Olympic torch relay proved hugely popular as it travelled through Cumbria.

But what happened when it passed through the Scottish district of Dunbartonshire?

This is the place which decreed that Olympic Games chief starter Alan Bell, from Wetheral, could not fire a starting pistol when he officiated at a school sports day in case the noise frightened the children.

It was eventually agreed that Mr Bell could use a klaxon instead.

This is what passes for common sense in Dunbartonshire.

But what about the Olympic torch? Can you imagine anything more hazardous than a naked flame being paraded around the country?

These people are playing with fire.

Hopefully the Dunbartonshire fire brigade was standing by to eliminate such an unacceptable risk.

Health and safety laws were introduced to protect against things like unguarded machinery.

Protecting children from bangs was not supposed to be serious enough to require intervention.

Neither were three-legged races, kite-flying or dodgem cars crashing into each other.

But all these have been banned by schools, councils and companies who interpreted health and safety in their own way.

A couple of years ago there was uproar when gardeners were banned from mowing the moat at Carlisle Castle for fear they might fall down it.

Compared with many other uses of the phrase ‘health and safety’, this policy now seems utterly sensible.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about the Dunbartonshire sports day is the fact that it happened at all.

After all, people who run might fall over and hurt themselves.

We must hope that Alan Bell has learned an important lesson from his sports day experience.

When the Olympic athletics begins, do not be surprised to hear “On your marks, set...” then see Alan preparing to slap two fluffy cushions together.

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