Ready to keep rolling says Tar Barrel organiser

The future of the Tar Barrels looks to be secure after insurance was secured and no claims were made at last year’s event.

The world-famous Ottery attraction had been in jeopardy after insurance premiums were driven up well above �20,000.

But chairman of the organising committee Graham Rowland says the cost is coming back down again after a stop in personal injury claims by people attending the town on November 5.

The cost will be �15,000 for public liability insurance, �2,000 less than in 2010. He thinks the tightening of insurance regulations has made a big difference to the amount of claims made.

Mr Rowland said: “It was too easy for people to claim. Our insurers would just pay out everything without letting us know about them.”

He said this is because it was believed to be cheaper for the insurance firm to pay out any claims than to go to court and contest them.

But the cost was being passed back to the event in higher premiums for the Tar Barrels.

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Last year though, there was not a single claim.

He hopes it won’t just be the Tar Barrels which benefits, and said it is good news for other famous English events like the cheese rolling at Cooper’s Hill in Gloucestershire, which has found it difficult to keep going in recent years.

When asked whether there was ever a danger the insurance wrangles would prevent the event from happening, he strongly dismissed the idea.

He said: “There’s no way there wouldn’t be barrel rolling in Ottery, even if it was just one barrel rather than 17.”

But he is hopeful discussions over the event’s viability will no longer be necessary, “the future looks bright”, he added.

The Tar Barrel committee raise the funds through bingo events, dances and various other activities.

He said they used to run a surplus and be able to help out local projects, but their emphasis has been focussed on raising enough to buy insurance and keep the event going.

But they have been able to help out at the skatepark construction site performing the vital task putting in the 52 fence posts needed around the perimeter of the site.