Love locks ban in Sidmouth’s Connaught Gardens branded ‘health and safety madness’

Padlocks on railings at Connaught Gardens with a loving message. Ref shs 7004-33-15AW. Picture: Alex

Padlocks on railings at Connaught Gardens with a loving message. Ref shs 7004-33-15AW. Picture: Alex Walton - Credit: Archant

EDDC defends clamp down to prevent precedent being set

The removal of ‘love’ padlocks from railings in Connaught Gardens - over fears they could destabilise the cliff-top - has been branded ‘health and safety madness’ by some angry residents.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) defended its decision this week, emphasising that it did not grant permission for the objects to be left there and that it does not want to add extra weight to the lofty vantage point.

The ‘love lock’ phenomenon started in Paris, where couples fixed the metal objects to the famous Pont de l’Archeveche as symbols of their everlasting affection for each other, and is a trend that has spread throughout Europe.

Similar padlocks were first spotted on railings in Sidmouth’s iconic gardens last August, but EDDC confirmed that – as in Paris – the items were removed amid fears their weight could destabilise the cliff.

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Some residents were not convinced by the reasoning and took to social media to voice their disbelief.

Brendon Isaac, of Furzehill, Sidbury, said: “It seems we live in a world where doing everything you want to do is deemed to dangerous - it’s absolutely crazy. Soon enough people won’t actually be able to enjoy themselves over fears they’re not abiding by health and safety.”

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Laura Southcott agreed and said: “Something kind and lovely for once and it’s deemed dangerous? What kind of world is this becoming? I think it’s a terrible shame that this kind act was deemed as a danger.”

Alfie Weaver, of Temple Street, said: “There were about 10 padlocks - if that is destabilising the cliff-top then why on earth are people allowed to walk there?”

An EDDC spokesman said: “Clipping padlocks on to a fence is a trend that has come over here from the continent.

“In Paris, sweethearts clip ‘love locks’ on bridges and then throw the key into the River Seine, but these padlocks have now been removed as they posed a hazard to the bridges. We are concerned that this fashion doesn’t catch on in East Devon for similar reasons. For example, if too many padlocks were attached to a small piece of railing at the top of the cliff at Connaught Gardens, then the weight on the fence could cause it to become unstable and therefore dangerous. As a precaution, our officers have been removing any padlocks they find attached to it to prevent a precedent being set.”

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