Ottery set for Tar Barrels spectacular

THOUSANDS of people are set to descend on Ottery St Mary for its November 5 Tar Barrels spectacular.

THOUSANDS of people are set to descend on Ottery St Mary for its November 5 Tar Barrels spectacular.

Organisers of the 200-year-old tradition have asked residents and visitors at the event to donate �1 to ensure it continues for years to come in the face of spiralling insurance costs.

Driving forces are hopeful over the future of the tradition after sealing a deal that has sliced �8,000 off its insurance premium.

They last week brokered a �17,000 agreement for the spectacular with a new insurance firm and have paid the sum in full.

The move means preparations and fundraising for next year’s event will start with a clean slate.

Ottery Carnival Committee members were left facing a �25,000 insurance premium with former coverage provider Brit thanks to a single compensation claim linked to a criminal act that sparked a barrel explosion last year.

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New insurer Broadsure has offered exactly the same cover for �8,000 less.

The tradition also needs the Government to end Britain’s compensation culture if it is to survive, according to Carnival Committee chairman Graham Rowland.

Mr Rowland hopes Tory peer Lord Young’s health and safety review recommendations on compensation culture in his ‘Common Sense Common Safety’ report will come to fruition.

“If the whole culture changes I’m hopeful this will go on for many years to come. It’s crucial not only for Ottery Tar Barrels but the rest of the country.

“We need common sense to come back in, and will hopefully get a more manageable premium. This is a crucial year in my opinion.

“To get insurance for �17,000 is absolutely fantastic. We couldn’t have raised �25,000 in a small rural area, it would have been impossible.

“As a committee we’re never negative- we can’t afford to be with what’s at stake.

“I’ve always rolled the barrels, so have my wife my son and my daughter. I’ve got a six-month old grandson now, so I’ve got another incentive to keep this going.

“This time of year is special for Ottery. It is what brings the community together.”

Mr Rowland was quick to thank former insurer Brit and said: “Without them we wouldn’t be in this position today. We haven’t severed all ties with them, still have a good working relationship, and I hope to work with them again some day. They came forward when it was under threat four or five years ago and I’m in great debt to them.”