Ottery Tar Barrels: ‘the end’ fears

PUBLISHED: 14:41 02 October 2010 | UPDATED: 14:58 02 October 2010

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

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

Archant

OTTERY’S famous Tar Barrels spectacular WILL happen in November, but could be the last ever after organisers were left facing a £25,000 insurance premium after a criminal act sparked an explosion last year.

Carnival Committee members fear “ambulance chasing” legal firms will kill the 200-year-old tradition and others like it across the nation.

Chairman Graham Rowland has revealed how the future of the cherished November 5 event could hinge on the outcome of a court battle.

A man has claimed compensation for burns to his hand after an unknown culprit threw an explosive into a barrel last year causing a fireball that engulfed spectators.

Event masterminds have been forced to put wire mesh into barrels for the first time in a bid to reduce the risk of another act of dangerous stupidity.

They have vowed to fight the compensation claim in court- saying every possible measure is always taken to keep spectators safe.

Mr Rowland said: “Now, again, the Barrels are under serious threat. It will be going ahead this year, but it could be the final one. We’ve got insurance, but the premium is £25,000.

“We’ve had a claim come in because of last year’s incident. Twelve people were injured, 11 had no problems. One man from Taunton burnt his hand and is claiming compensation.

“Our insurers are brilliant, but because the claim and legal fees could be £25,000 that’s what they could be charging us. The loss adjusters are backing our case, and the Carnival Committee is prepared to go to court.

“To get insurance is brilliant news, but we’ve been asked to find £25,000 that we haven’t got.

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

“All these no win no fee solicitors are ruining everything. With all our traditions everybody is in the same boat, if someone doesn’t make a stand we’ll have nothing left.

“20,000 people came last year and if it wasn’t for one criminal act, 20,000 people would have gone home happy.

“If it wasn’t for one moron it would be going ahead and we’d be paying last year’s premium.”


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