Compensation Britain could end Ottery Tar Barrels

PUBLISHED: 11:56 05 October 2010

sho 46-04-7519TI Tar Barrells; picture by Terry Ife

sho 46-04-7519TI Tar Barrells; picture by Terry Ife

Archant

WORRIED organisers of Ottery’s world-renowned Tar Barrels fear Britain’s litigation culture will kill the 200-year-old tradition and others like it across the nation.

P1031-45-09SH A scene from the Ottery Tar Barrels.; Picture by Simon Horn.

WORRIED organisers of Ottery’s world-renowned Tar Barrels fear Britain’s compensation culture will kill the 200-year-old tradition and others like it.

The spectacular will take place on November 5 after being granted insurance, but the person who sparked a horror explosion by lobbing an incendiary into a barrel last year has left driving forces facing a £25,000 premium- cash they do not have.

The future of the event hinges on a possible court battle after a man who suffered burns to his hand as a result of the fireball lodged a compensation claim.

He is the only one of twelve people who suffered burns to take action. Loss adjusters have backed the Barrels according to Carnival Committee chairman Graham Rowland, who is prepared to go to court to save the event.

Mr Rowland fears this year’s Barrels could be the last and blames ‘ambulance chaser’ legal firms for the demise of scores of traditions of its kind.

“All these no win no fee solicitors are ruining everything,” he told the Herald.

“With our traditions everybody is in the same boat, if someone doesn’t make a stand we’ll have nothing left.

“Our premium has gone from £2,000 to £25,500 in five years.

“We’ve had people trying to claim for false teeth and damaged prams in the past. This is what we’re up against. People know what they are coming to, and the risks are well publicised. I don’t know what more we can do. We need the public to realise this.

“It’s like going to a football match, getting hit by a football, and saying you didn’t expect it to happen.

“What would happen to Sidmouth FolkWeek if someone sprayed paraffin on one of the fire jugglers?”

“Where does it stop? If someone comes along and shoots someone is that our fault? We had and will have everything in place to make this event as safe as possible.

“We’ve got a plan for a mass evacuation in case of a terrorist attack, and an emergency helipad, but what can you put in place if one moron chooses to throw an aerosol into a barrel?

“We’ve had to put wire mesh in the barrels this year as you don’t know if some idiot is going to come and throw a bigger can in. 20,000 people came last year, and if it wasn’t for one criminal act, 20,000 people would have gone home happy.”

Security measures last year were ramped up, and one incident aside, the event was hailed a success.

Mr Rowland added this year’s Barrels will have extra marshals and a bumper police presence.


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