Thursday, 20 October 2016


We know that some, perhaps many, members had been hoping that we would be holding our annual Bonfire party in November. However after receiving the following communication from our insurers and obtaining subsequent information from the Council (see below), the Committee has decided that such an event cannot take place this year.
From Bluefin Insurance
Good afternoon Mr Jackson,
Following our discussions regarding the Bonfire to be held on your allotment site I can confirm Liability cover is extended to include this subject to less than 100 people being in attendance and the following criteria being adhered to:
·         The Police and Fire Brigade authorities will be consulted at least fourteen days before the event and their recommendations have been complied with in full
·         The relevant HSE guidance will be followed by the organiser;.
·         An event risk assessment has been carried out by the organiser;.
·         Spectators will be kept at least 25 metres from the display/bonfire and the display area will be roped off;.
·         Bonfires will be sited at least 50 metres from any buildings or vehicles and there are no roads, railways, overhead cables, woodland, bracken or similar combustible materials in the immediate vicinity
·         Special consideration should be given to major roads (i.e. motorways), main railway lines, airport runways.
·         Organisers should seek permission from the relevant party (in our case the Council**)
Procedures - Organisers
·         One member of the committee or other body organising the display will be in direct charge of safety matters and not engaged in any duties or activities which would prevent them from exercising general supervision;.
·         Qualified first aid personnel will be in attendance and means of summoning emergency assistance will be available;.
·         There will be at least one steward in attendance
·         These stewards should have full instructions about their duties, adequate communications equipment (e.g. mobile phones, walkie talkies), and know what to do and who to report to in the event of an incident
Procedures - General
·         No petrol or paraffin will be used for the purpose of lighting any bonfire;.
·         When on own premises a full inspection of the site will be carried out and any bonfire will be completely extinguished before leaving the site at the end of the display;.
Please inform us should the Allotment Association decide to have a firework display as this will require further referral.
Many thanks, Allotments Team, Bluefin Insurance

** On 14/10/2016 – The Head of Neighbourhood Services stated that:-
·         Bonfires on Allotment Sites after dark could not be public events – since the Council regard allotment sites as potentially unsafe places after dark. Events therefore would need to be restricted to Plot-holders and their guests. (Any plot-holder should accept responsibility for the behaviour and safety of anyone they invite including children. After discussion the Committee felt that even were those attending to sign a waiver to this effect it would not necessarily protect the Society against action in the event of an incident ).
·         No material may be brought onto the site for the purposes of the bonfire
·         No fireworks would be allowed
·         An event management or risk assessment plan must be submitted in advance by the organising society
·         Proof of insurance which specifically covers bonfires must be provided
(Two sites who are going ahead with their bonfires have taken out separate events insurance to allow them to do so, costs of £60 and £100 have been quoted by the respective secretaries).
Faced with this information the Committee decided at a meeting on 18/10/2016 that an event which met the insurance criteria could not be organised within the time frame allowed and at reasonable cost to the Society.
A suggestion that the event go ahead without insurance or Council approval was rejected on the grounds that
·         We cannot control who comes to the fire
·         If there is an incident then the Committee would be jointly and severally responsible for any damages awarded to any individual (whether member, plot-holder, guest or interloper) who suffered harm.
·         Committee members were not prepared to put themselves at this level of risk.
Accordingly there will be no Society Bonfire this year.

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